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The World's First Love 


Agregé in Philosophy from the University of Louvain 
Auxiliary Bishop of New York 
National Director, World Mission Society for 
the Propagation of the Faith 

McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. New York - London - Toronto 
Copyright, 1952, by Fulton J. Sheen. 
Etext edited by Darrell Wright, 2009, from a text file at


The Woman Whom even God dreamed of 
Before the world was made; 
The Woman of Whom I was born 
At cost of pain and labor at a Cross; 
The Woman Who, though no priest, 
Could yet on Calvary's Hill breathe: 
"This is my Body; This is my Blood" 
For none save her gave Him human life. 
The Woman Who guides my pen, 
Which falters so with words 
In telling of the Word. 
The Woman Who, in a world of Reds, 
Shows forth the blue of hope. 
Accept these dried grapes of thoughts 
From this poor author, who has no wine; 
And with Cana's magic and thy Son's Power 
Work a miracle and save a soul - 
Forgetting not my own. 

1 Love Begins with a Dream 3 
2 When Freedom and Love Were One: The Annunciation 14 
3 The Song of the Woman: The Visitation 28 
4 When Did Belief in the Virgin Birth Begin? 45 
5 All Mothers Are Alike Save One 58 
6 The Virgin Mother 75 
7 The World's Happiest Marriage 86 
8 Obedience and Love 96 
9 The Marriage Feast at Cana 112 
10 Love and Sorrow 121 
11 The Assumption and the Modern World 132 

12 Man and Woman 147 
13 The Seven Laws of Love 160 
14 Virginity and Love 167 
15 Equity and Equality 175 
16 The Madonna of the World 186 
17 Mary and the Moslems 204 
18 Roses and Prayers 210 
19 The Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary 221 
20 Misery of Soul and the Queen of Mercy 228 
21 Mary and the Sword 243 
22 The Woman and the Atom 275 

The Woman the World Loves 

Love Begins with a Dream 

[3] Every person carries within his heart a blueprint of the one 
he loves. What seems to be "love at first sight" is actually the 
fulfillment of desire, the realization of a dream. Plato, sensing 
this, said that all knowledge is a recollection from a previous 
existence. This is not true, as he states it, but it is true if one 
understands it to mean that we already have an ideal in us, 
one which is made by our thinking, our habits, our experi- 
ences, and our desires. Otherwise, how would we know imme- 
diately, on seeing persons or things, that we loved them? Be- 
fore meeting certain people we already have a pattern and 
mould of what we like and what we do not like; certain per- 
sons fit into that pattern, others do not. 

When we hear music for the first time, we either like or 
dislike it. We judge it by the music we already have heard in 
our own hearts. Jittery minds, which cannot long repose in 
one object of thought or in continuity of an ideal, love music 
which is distracting, excited, and jittery. Calm minds like 
calm music: the heart has its own secret melody and one day, 
when the score is played, the heart answers: "This is it." So 
it is with love. A tiny architect works inside the human heart 
drawing sketches of the ideal love from the people it sees, 
[4] from the books it reads, from its hopes and daydreams, in 
the fond hope that the eye may one day see the ideal and the 
hand touch it. Life becomes satisfying the moment the dream 
is seen walking, and the person appears as the incarnation of 
all that one loved. The liking is instantaneous because, 
actually, it was there waiting for a long time. Some go through 
life without ever meeting what they call their ideal. This could 
be very disappointing, if the ideal never really existed. But 
the absolute ideal of every heart does exist, and it is God. All 
human love is an initiation into the Eternal. Some find the 
Ideal in substance without passing through the shadow. 

God, too, has within Himself blueprints of everything in the 
universe. As the architect has in his mind a plan of the house 
before the house is built, so God has in His Mind an arche- 
typal idea of every flower, bird, tree, springtime, and melody. 
There never was a brush touched to canvas nor a chisel to 
marble without some great pre-existing idea. So, too, every 
atom and every rose is a realization and concretion of an 
idea existing in the Mind of God from all eternity. All crea- 
tures below man correspond to the pattern God has in His 
Mind. A tree is truly a tree because it corresponds to God's 
idea of a tree. A rose is a rose, because it is God's idea of a 
rose wrapped up in chemicals and tints and life. But it is not 
so with persons. God has to have two pictures of us: one is 
what we are, and the other is what we ought to be. He has 
the model, and He has the reality: the blueprint and the 
edifice, the score of the music and the way we play it. God 
has to have these two pictures because in each and every one 
of us there is some disproportion and want of conformity be- 
tween the original plan and the way we have worked it out. 
The image is blurred; the print is faded. For one thing, our 
[5] personality is not complete in time; we need a renewed 
body. Then, too, our sins diminish our personality; our evil acts 
daub the canvas the Master Hand designed. Like unhatched 
eggs, some of us refuse to be warmed by the Divine Love 
which is so necessary for incubation to a higher level. We 
are in constant need of repairs; our free acts do not coincide 
with the law of our being; we fall short of all God wants us to 
be. St. Paul tells us that we were predestined, before the 
foundations of the world were laid, to become the sons of 
God. But some of us will not fulfill that hope. 

There is, actually, only one person in all humanity of 
whom God has one picture, and in whom there is a perfect 
conformity between what He wanted her to be and what she 
is, and that is His Own Mother. Most of us are a minus sign, 
in the sense that we do not fulfill the high hopes the Heavenly 
Father has for us. But Mary is the equal sign. The Ideal that 
God had of her, that she is, and in the flesh. The model and 
the copy are perfect; she is all that was foreseen, planned, 
and dreamed. The melody of her life is played, just as it was 
written. Mary was thought, conceived, and planned as the 
equal sign between ideal and history, thought and reality, 
hope and realization. 

That is why, through the centuries, Christian liturgy has 
applied to her the words of the Book of Proverbs. Because 
she is what God wanted us all to be, she speaks of herself as 
the Eternal blueprint in the Mind of God, the one whom God 
loved before she was a creature. She is even pictured as being 
with Him not only at creation, but before creation. She ex- 
isted in the Divine Mind as an Eternal Thought before there 
were any mothers. She is the Mother of mothers SHE is THE 

[6] "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, be- 
fore He made anything, from the beginning. I was set up 
from eternity, and of old, before the earth was made. The 
depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived; neither 
had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out; the mountains 
with their huge bulk had not as yet been established: before 
the hills I was brought forth. He had not yet made the earth, 
nor the rivers, nor the poles of the world. When he prepared 
the heavens, I was present; when with a certain law and com- 
pass he enclosed the depths; when he established the sky 
above, and poised the fountains of waters; when he com- 
passed the sea with its bounds, and set a law to the waters 
that they should not pass their limits; when he balanced the 
foundations of the earth; I was with him, forming all things, 
and was delighted every day, playing before him at all times, 
playing in the world: and my delights were to be with the 
children of men. Now, therefore, ye children, hear me: 
Blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and 
be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, 
and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts 
of my doors. He that shall find me shall find life and shall 
have salvation from the Lord." (Prov. 8:22-35) 

But God not only thought of her in eternity, He also had 
her in mind at the beginning of time. In the beginning of 
history, when the human race fell through the solicitation 
of a woman, God spoke to the Devil and said: "I will establish 
a feud between thee and the woman, between thy offspring 
and hers; she is to crush thy head, while thou dost lie in wait at 
her heels" (Gen. 3:15) God was saying that, if it was by a 
woman that man fell, it would be through a woman that God 
would be revenged. Whoever His Mother would be, she 
[7] would certainly be blessed among women, and because 
God Himself chose her, He would see to it that all generations 
would call her blessed. 

When God willed to become Man, He had to decide on the 
time of His coming, the country in which He would be born, 
the city in which He would be raised, the people, the race, 
the political and economic systems which would surround 
Him, the language He would speak, and the psychological 
attitudes with which He would come in contact as the Lord 
of History and the Saviour of the World. 

All these details would depend entirely on one factor: the 
woman who would be His Mother. To choose a mother is to 
choose a social position, a language, a city, an environment, 
a crisis, and a destiny. 

His Mother was not like ours, whom we accepted as some- 
thing historically fixed, which we could not change; He was 
born of a Mother whom He chose before He was born. It is 
the only instance in history where both the Son willed the 
Mother, and the Mother willed the Son. And this is what the 
Creed means when it says, "born of the Virgin Mary" She 
was called by God as Aaron was, and Our Lord was born not 
just of her flesh, but by her consent. 

Before taking unto Himself a human nature, He consulted 
with the Woman, to ask her if she would give Him a man. 
The Manhood of Jesus was not stolen from humanity, as 
Prometheus stole fire from heaven; it was given as a gift. 

The first man, Adam, was made from the slime of the earth. 
The first woman was made from a man in an ecstasy. The 
new Adam, Christ, comes from the new Eve, Mary, in an 
ecstasy of prayer and love of God and the fullness of freedom. 

We should not be surprised that she is spoken of as a 
[8] thought by God before the world was made. When Whistler 
painted the picture of his mother, did he not have the image 
of her in his mind before he ever gathered his colors on his 
palette? If you could have pre-existed your mother (not 
artistically, but really), would you not have made her the 
most perfect woman that ever lived - one so beautiful she 
would have been the sweet envy of all women, and one so 
gentle and so merciful that all other mothers would have 
sought to imitate her virtues? Why then should we think that
God would do otherwise? When Whistler was complimented 
on the portrait of his mother, he said: "You know how it is - 
one tries to make one's Mummy just as nice as he can." When 
God became Man, I believe that He, too, would make His 
Mother as nice as He could and that would make her a 
perfect Mother. 

God never does anything without exceeding preparation. 
The two great masterpieces of God are Creation of man and 
Re-creation or Redemption of man. Creation was made for 
unfallen men; His Mystical Body, for fallen men. Before 
making man, God made a garden of delights as God alone 
knows how to make a garden beautiful. In that Paradise of 
Creation there was celebrated the first nuptials of man and 
woman. But man willed not to have blessings, except accord- 
ing to his lower nature. Not only did he lose his happiness, he 
even wounded his own mind and will. Then God planned the 
remaking or redeeming of man. But before doing so, he 
would make another Garden. This new one would not be of 
earth, but of flesh; it would be a Garden over whose portals 
the name of sin would never be written - a Garden in which 
there would grow no weeds of rebellion to choke the growth 
of the flowers of grace - a Garden from which there would 
[9] flow four rivers of redemption to the four corners of the 
earth - a Garden so pure that the Heavenly Father would 
not blush at sending His Own Son into it - and this "flesh-girt 
Paradise to be gardened by the Adam new" was Our Blessed 
Mother. As Eden was the Paradise of Creation, Mary is the 
Paradise of the Incarnation, and in her as a Garden was cele- 
brated the first nuptials of God and man. The closer one gets 
to fire, the greater the heat; the closer one is to God, the 
greater the purity. But since no one was ever closer to God 
than the woman whose human portals He threw open to 
walk this earth, then no one could have been more pure 
than she. 

A garden bower in flower 
Grew waiting for Gods hand: 
Where no man ever trod, 
This was the Gate of God. 
The first bower was red -
Her lips which "welcome" said. 
The second bower was blue -
Her eyes that let God through. 
The third bower was white -
Her soul in Gods sight. 
Three bowers of love - 
Now Christ from heaven above.

(Laurence Houseman) 

This special purity of hers we call the Immaculate Concep- 
tion. It is not the Virgin Birth. The word "immaculate" is 
taken from two latin words meaning "not stained." "Con- 
ception" means that, at the first moment of her conception, 
the Blessed Mother in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, 
and in virtue of the anticipated merits of the Redemption of 
[10] her Son, was preserved free from the stains of original sin. 

I never could see why anyone in this day and age should 
object to the Immaculate Conception; all modern pagans 
believe that they are immaculately conceived. If there is no 
original sin, then everyone is immaculately conceived. Why 
do they shrink from allowing to Mary what they attribute 
to themselves? The doctrine of Original Sin and the Im- 
maculate Conception are mutually exclusive. If Mary alone 
is THE Immaculate Conception, then the rest of us must have 
Original Sin. 

The Immaculate Conception does not imply that Mary 
needed no Redemption. She needed it as much as you and I 
do. She was redeemed in advance, by way of prevention, in 
both body and soul, in the first instant of conception. We re- 
ceive the fruits of redemption in our soul at Baptism. The 
whole human race needs redemption. But Mary was desolid- 
arized and separated from that sin-laden humanity as a result 
of the merits of Our Lord's Cross being offered to her at the 
moment of her conception. If we exempted her from the need 
of redemption, we would also have to exempt her from mem- 
bership in humanity. The Immaculate Conception, therefore, 
in no way implies that she needed no redemption. She did! 
Mary is the first effect of redemption, in the sense that it was 
applied to her at the moment of her conception and to us 
in another and diminished fashion only after our birth. 

She had this privilege, not for her sake, but for HIS sake. 
That is why those who do not believe in the Divinity of 
Christ can see no reason for the special privilege accorded 
to Mary. If I did not believe in the Divinity of Our Lord -
which God avert - I should see nothing but nonsense in any 
special reverence given to Mary above the other women on 
[11] earth! But if she is the Mother of God, Who became Man, 
then she is unique, and then she stands out as the new Eve 
of Humanity as He is the new Adam. 

There had to be some such creature as Mary - otherwise 
God would have found no one in whom He could fittingly 
have taken His human origin. An honest politician seeking 
civic reforms looks about for honest assistants. The Son of 
God beginning a new creation searched for some of that 
Goodness which existed before sin took over. There would 
have been, in some minds, a doubt about the Power of God 
if He had not shown a special favor to the Woman who was 
to be His Mother. Certainly what God gave to Eve, He would 
not refuse to His Own Mother. 

Suppose that God in making over man did not also make 
over woman into a new Eve! What a howl of protest would 
have gone up! Christianity would have been denounced as 
are all male religions. Women would then have searched for 
a female religion! It would have been argued that woman was 
always the slave of man and even God intended her to be 
such, since He refused to make the new Eve, as He made the 
new Adam. 

Had there been no Immaculate Conception, then Christ 
would have been said to be less beautiful, for He would 
have taken His Body from one who was not humanly per- 
fect! There ought to be an infinite separation between God 
and sin, but there would not have been if there was not one 
Woman who could crush the cobra's head. 

If you were an artist, would you allow someone to pre- 
pare your canvas with daubs? Then why should God be 
expected to act differently, when He prepares to unite to 
Himself a human nature like ours, in all things, save sin? 
[12] But having lifted up one woman by preserving her from 
sin, and then having her freely ratify that gift at the Annuncia- 
tion, God gave hope to our disturbed, neurotic, gauche, and 
weak humanity, Oh, yes! He is our Model, but He is also the 
Person of God! There ought to be, on the human level, Some- 
one who would give humans hope, Someone who could lead 
us to Christ, Someone who would mediate between us and 
Christ as He mediates between us and the Father. One look 
at her, and we know that a human who is not good can be- 
come better; one prayer to her, and we know that, because 
she is without sin, we can become less sinful. 

And that brings us back to the beginning. We have said 
that everyone carries within his heart a blueprint of his 
ideal love. The best of human loves, no matter how de- 
voted they be, must end and there is nothing perfect that 
ends. If there be anyone of whom it is possible to say, "This 
is the last embrace," then there is no perfect love. Hence 
some, ignoring the Divine, may try to have a multiplicity 
of loves make up for the ideal love; but this is like saying 
that to render a musical masterpiece one must play a dozen 
different violins. 

Every man who pursues a maid, every maid who yearns to 
be courted, every bond of friendship in the universe, seeks 
a love that is not just her love or his love but something 
that overflows both her and him which is called "our love." 
Everyone is in love with an ideal love, a love that is so far 
beyond sex that sex is forgotten. We all love something more 
than we love. When that overflow ceases, love stops. As the 
poet puts it: "I could not love thee, dear, so much, loved I 
not honour more." That ideal love we see beyond all creature- 
love, to which we instinctively turn when flesh-love fails, is 
[13] the same ideal that God had in His Heart from all eternity -
the Lady whom He calls "Mother." She is the one whom every 
man loves when he loves a woman whether he knows it or 
not. She is what every woman wants to be, when she looks at 
herself. She is the woman whom every man marries in ideal 
when he takes a spouse; she is hidden as an ideal in the dis- 
content of every woman with the carnal aggressiveness of 
man; she is the secret desire every woman has to be honored 
and fostered; she is the way every woman wants to command 
respect and love because of the beauty of her goodness of 
body and soul. And this blueprint love, whom God loved be- 
fore the world was made; this Dream Woman before women 
were, is the one of whom every heart can say in its depth of 
depths: "She is the Woman I love!" 

When Freedom and Love Were One: 
The Annunciation 

[14] The modern age, which gives primacy to sex, justifies pro-
miscuity and divorce on the grounds that love is by its nature 
free which, indeed, it is. All love is free love, in a certain 
sense. To be devoid of love is of the essence of hell. Scripture 
tells us: "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." 
(2 Cor. 3:17) The ideal life is fulfilled not in subjection 
to an absolute law but in the discriminating response of an 
educated affection. 

The formula that love is free is right. The interpretation 
of this can often be wrong. Those husbands who leave one 
wife for another may justify their infidelity on the grounds 
that "one must be free to live his own life" No one is ever 
selfish or voluptuous without covering up his demands with 
a similar parade of ideals. Behind many contemporary af- 
firmations of the freedom of love is a false rationalization; 
for, although love involves freedom, not all freedom involves 
love. I cannot love unless I am free, but, because I am free, 
still I may not love as I please. A man can have freedom with- 
[15] out love - for example, he who violates another is free in 
his action when there is no one around to restrain him; yet 
he certainly has no love. A robber is free to ransack a house 
when the owners are away, but it is absurd to say that he loves 
the owners, because he is free to steal. The purest liberty is 
that which is given, not that which is taken. 

What many moderns mean by freedom in love is freedom 
from something, without being free for anything. True love 
wants to be free from something for something. A young 
man wants to be free from the parental yoke that he may 
love someone beside his parents and thus prolong his life. 
Freedom of love is, therefore, inseparable from service, from 
altruism and goodness. The press wants freedom from re- 
straint, in order to be free to express truth*; a man wants to be 
free from political tyranny, in order to work out his own 
prosperity, for him here below, and for his destiny in the 
life hereafter. Love demands freedom from one thing, in 
order to place itself freely at the service of another. When 
a man falls in love, he seeks the sweet servitude of affection 
and devotion to another. When a man falls in love with God, 
he immediately goes out in search of a neighbor. But to be 
utterly free from all restraint, a man would have to be alone; 
but then he would have no one to love. This is precisely the 
ideal of Sartre, who says: "Others are hell." The basis of his 
philosophy is that anything restraining the ego is nothing. 
But every other man, and every other thing, restrains the 
ego - therefore, they are nothing. Truly, indeed, if a man 
sets out to be free in the sense of living life only on his own 
terms, he finds himself in the nihilism of hell. Sartre forgets 
that to fall in love means to fall into something, and that 
something is responsibility. Thus, the same love which de- 

* [This of course does not apply to the mainstream media 
today (2008), which is a propaganda leviathan promoting atheism,
materialism, pan-sexualism, consumerism, U.S. imperialism, 
Zionism, and one world government, while destroying souls, 
personal and economic freedom, the family, traditions and 
cultures. Ed.]

[16] mands freedom to exercise itself also seeks the curbs to limit 
it. The liberty of love, therefore, is not license. Freedom im- 
plies not just a mere choice, but also responsibility for choice. 

There are three definitions of freedom: two of them are 
false, and one is true. The first false definition is, "Freedom 
is the right to do whatever I please." This is the liberal doc- 
trine of freedom, which reduces freedom to a physical, rather 
than to a moral, power. Of course we are free to do what- 
ever we please; for example, we can turn a machine gun on 
our neighbor's chickens, or drive an automobile on the side- 
walk, or stuff a neighbor's mattress with used razor blades - 
but ought we do these things? This kind of freedom, in which 
everyone is allowed to seek his own benefit, produces con- 
fusion. There is no liberalism of this particular kind without 
a world of conflicting egotisms, where no one is willing to 
submerge himself for the common good. In order to over- 
come this confusion of everyone's doing whatever he pleases, 
there arose the second false definition of freedom, namely, 
"Freedom is the right to do whatever you must." This is to- 
talitarian freedom, which was developed in order to destroy 
individual freedom for the sake of society. Engels, who with 
Marx wrote the Philosophy of Communism, said: "A stone 
is free to fall because it must obey the law of gravitation." 
So man is free in Communist society because he must obey 
the law of the Dictator. 

The true concept of freedom is, "Freedom is the right to 
do whatever we ought," and ought implies goal, purpose, 
morality, and the law of God. True freedom is within the 
law, not outside it. I am free to draw a triangle, if I give 
it three sides, but not, in a stroke of broad-mindedness, fifty- 
seven sides. I am free to fly on condition that I obey the law 
[17] of aeronautics. In the spiritual realm, I am also most free 
when I obey the law of God. 

In order to escape the implications of freedom (namely, 
its involvement in responsibility) , there are those who would 
deny individual freedom either communally ( as do the Com- 
munists) or biologically (as do some Freudians). Any civili- 
zation which denies free will is, generally, a civilization 
which is already disgusted with the choices of its freedom, 
because it has brought unhappiness upon itself. Those who 
make the theoretical denial of free will are those who, in 
practice, confuse freedom by identifying it with license. One 
will never find a professor who denies freedom of the will 
who does not also have something in his life for which he 
wishes to shake off responsibility. He disowns the evil by 
disowning that which made evil possible, namely, free will. 
On the golf course, such deniers of freedom blame the golf 
clubs, but never themselves. The excuse is like the perennial 
one of the little boy who broke the vase: "Someone pushed 
me": that is, he was forced. When he grows up, he becomes 
a professor, but instead of saying: "I was pushed," he says: 
"The concatenation of social, economic, and environmental 
factors, so weighted down with the collective psychic herit- 
age of our animal and evolutionary origin, produced in me 
what psychologists called a compulsive Id." These same pro- 
fessors who deny freedom of the will are the ones who sign 
their names to petitions to free Communists in the name of 
freedom, after they have already abused the privilege of 
American freedom. 

The beauty of this universe is that practically all gifts are 
conditioned by freedom. There is no law that a young man 
should give the gift of a ring to the young lady to whom he 
[18] is engaged. The one word in the English language which 
proves the close connection between gifts and freedom is: 
"Thanks." As Chesterton said: "If man were not free, he could 
never say, "Thank you for the mustard'." 

Freedom is ours really to give away because of something 
we love. Everyone in the world who is free wants freedom 
first of all as a means: he wants freedom in order to give it 
away. Almost everyone actually gives freedom away. Some 
give their freedom of thinking away to public opinion, to 
moods, to fashions, and to the anonymity of "they say" and 
thus become the willing slaves of the passing hour. Others 
give their freedom to alcohol and to sex, and thus experience 
in their lives the words of Scripture: "He who commits sin is 
the slave of sin." Others give up their freedom in love to 
another person. This is a higher form of surrender and is the 
sweet slavery of love of which Our Saviour spoke: "My yoke 
is sweet and my burden light." The young man who courts 
a young woman is practically saying to her: "I want to be 
your slave all the days of my life, and that will be my highest 
and greatest freedom." The young woman courted might say 
to the young man: "You say you love me, but how do I know? 
Have you courted the other 458,623 young eligible ladies in 
this city?" If the young man knew his metaphysics and 
philosophy well, he would answer: "In a certain sense, yes, 
for by the mere fact that I love you, I reject them. The very 
love which makes me choose you, also makes me spurn 
them and that will be for life." 

Love therefore is not only an affirmation; it is also a rejec- 
tion. The mere fact that John loves Mary with his whole 
heart means that he does not love Ruth with any part of it. 
Every protestation of love is a limitation of a wrong kind of 
[19] free love. Love, here, is the curbing of the freedom under- 
stood as license, and yet it is the enjoyment of perfect free- 
dom for all that one wants in life is to love that person. 
True love always imposes restrictions on itself for the sake 
of others whether it be the saint who detaches himself from 
the world in order more readily to adhere to Christ, or the 
husband who detaches himself from former acquaintances to 
belong more readily to the spouse of his choice. True love, 
by its nature, is uncompromising; it is the freeing of self from 
selfishness and egotism. Real love uses freedom to attach it- 
self unchangeably to another. St. Augustine has said: "Love 
God, and then do whatever you please." By this he meant 
that, if you love God, you will never do anything to wound 
Him. In married love, likewise, there is perfect freedom, and 
yet one limitation which preserves that love, and that is the 
refusal to hurt the beloved. There is no moment more sacred 
in freedom than that when the ability to love others is sus- 
pended and checked by the interest one has in the pledged 
one of his heart; there then arises a moment when one 
abandons the seizure and the capture for the pleasure of 
contemplating it, and when the need to possess and devour 
disappears in the joy of seeing another live. 

And an interesting insight into love is this that, to just the 
extent that we reject love, we lose our gifts. No refugee from 
Russia sends a gift back to a Dictator; God's gifts, too, are 
dependent on our love. Adam and Eve could have passed on 
to posterity extraordinary gifts of body and soul, had they 
but loved. They were not forced to love; they were not asked 
to say, "I love," because words can be empty; they were 
merely asked to make an act of choice between what is God's 
and what is not God's, between the choices symbolized in the 
[20] alternatives of the garden and the tree. If they had had no 
freedom, they would have turned to God as the sunflower 
does to the sun; but, being free, they could reject the whole 
for the part, the garden for the tree, the future joy for the 
immediate pleasure. The result was that mankind lost those 
gifts which God would have passed on to it, had it only been 
true in love. 

What concerns us now is the restoration of these gifts 
through another act of freedom. God could have restored 
man to himself by simply forgiving man's sin, but then there 
would have been mercy without justice. The problem con- 
fronting man was something like that which confronts an 
orchestra leader. The score is written and given to an ex- 
cellent director. The musicians, well-skilled in their art, are 
free to follow the director or to rebel against him. Suppose 
that one of the musicians decides to hit a wrong note. The 
director might do either of two things: he might either ignore  
the mistake, or he might strike his baton and order the meas- 
ure to be replayed. It would make little difference, for that 
note has already gone winging into space, and since time 
cannot be reversed, the discord goes on and on through the 
universe, even to the end of time. Is there any possible way 
by which this voluntary disharmony can be stopped? Cer- 
tainly not by anyone in time. It could be corrected on con- 
dition that someone would reach out from eternity, would 
seize that note in time and arrest it in its mad flight. But 
would it still not be a discord? No, it could be made the first 
note in a new symphony and thus be made harmonious! 

When our first parents were created, God gave them a 
conscience, a moral law, and an original justice. They were 
not compelled to follow Him as the director of the symphony 
[21] of creation. Yet they chose to rebel, and that sour note of 
original revolution was passed on to humanity, through hu- 
man generation. How could that original disorder be stopped? 
It could be arrested in the same way as the sour note, by hav- 
ing eternity come into time and lay hold of a man by force, 
compelling him to enter into a new order where the original 
gifts would be restored and harmony would be the law. But 
this would not be God's way, for it would mean the destruc- 
tion of human freedom. God could lay hold of a note, but 
He could not lay hold of a man by force without abusing 
the greatest gift which He gave to man - namely, freedom, 
which alone makes love possible. 

Now we come to the greatest act of freedom the world has 
ever known - the reversal of that free act which the Head 
of humanity performed in paradise when he chose non-God 
against God. It was the moment in which that unfortunate 
choice was reversed, when God in His Mercy willed to remake 
man and to give him a fresh start in a new birth of freedom 
under GOD. God could have made a perfect man to start hu- 
manity out of dust as He had done in the beginning. He could 
have made the new man start the new humanity from nothing, 
as He had done in making the world. And He could have done 
it without consulting humanity, but this would have been 
the invasion of human privilege. God would not take a man 
out of the world of freedom without the free act of a free 
being. God's way with man is not dictatorship, but coopera- 
tion. If He would redeem humanity, it would be with human 
consent, and not against it. God could destroy evil but only 
at the cost of human freedom, and that would be too high a 
price to pay for the destruction of dictatorship on earth to 
have a dictator in Heaven. Before remaking humanity, God 
[22] willed to consult with humanity, so that there would be 
no destruction of human dignity; the particular person whom 
He consulted was a Woman. In the beginning, it was man 
who was asked to ratify the gift; this time it is a Woman. The 
mystery of the Incarnation is very simply that of God's ask- 
ing a woman to freely give Him a human nature. In so many 
words, through the Angel, He was saying: "Will you make Me 
a man?" As from the first Adam came the first Eve, so now, 
in the rebirth of man's dignity, the new Adam will come from 
the new Eve. And in Mary's free consent we have the only 
human nature which was ever born in perfect liberty. 

The story of this rebirth of freedom is told in the Gospel 
of St. Luke (1:26-35): 

When the sixth month came, God sent the 
angel Gabriel to a city of Galilee called 
Nazareth, where a virgin dwelt betrothed 
to a man of David's lineage; 
His name was Joseph, and the virgin's name 
was Mary. 

Into her presence the angel came, and said, 
"Hail, thou who art full of grace; the Lord is with thee;
Blessed art thou among women." 
She was much perplexed at hearing him speak so, 
And cast about in her mind, what she was to make of 
such a greeting. 

Then the angel said to her, "Mary, do not be afraid; 
Thou hast found favour in the sight of God. 
And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and 
shalt bear a son and shalt call him Jesus. 

 [23] "He shall be great, and men will know him for 
the Son of the most High; The Lord will give him the 
throne of his father, David, 

"And He shall reign over the house of Jacob eternally; 
His Kingdom shall never have an end." 

But Mary said to the angel, "How can that be, since 
I have no knowledge of man?" 

And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will 
come upon thee and the Power of the most High 
will overshadow thee. Thus the holy thing which is 
to be born of thee shall be known for the Son of God." 

The angel Gabriel, as God's spokesman, here asks her if 
she will freely give the Son of God a human nature, that 
He may also be the Son of man. A creature was asked by the 
Creator if she would freely cooperate with God's plan to 
take humanity out of the mire, and to let him be ravished 
totally by God. Mary at first is troubled as to how she can 
give God a manhood, since she is still a Virgin. The angel 
settles the problem by telling her that God Himself, through 
His Spirit, will work that miracle within her. 

But from our point of view there seems to be another dif- 
ficulty. Mary was chosen by God to be His Mother, and was 
even prepared for that honor by being preserved free from 
the primal sin that had infected all humanity. If she were 
so prepared, would she be free to accept or to reject, and 
would her answer be the full fruit of her free will? The 
answer is that her redemption was already completed, but 
that she had not yet accepted nor ratified it. It was, in a way, 
[24] something like our dilemma. We are baptized as infants and 
our bodies become temples of God, as our souls have been 
filled with infused virtues. We become not just creatures 
made by God, but partakers in Divine nature. All this is 
done in Baptism before our freedom blossoms, the Church 
standing responsible for our spiritual birth, as our parents 
did for our physical birth. Later on, however, we ratify that 
original endowment by the free acts of our moral lives by 
receiving the sacraments, by prayers, and by sacrifices. So, 
too, Mary's redemption was completed as our Baptism was 
completed but she had not yet accepted, ratified, or con- 
firmed it before she gave her consent to the angel. She was 
planned for a role in the drama of redemption by God, as a 
child is planned for a musical career by his physical parents, 
but it was not fulfilled until this moment. The Holy Trinity 
never possesses a creature without the consent of His will. 
When, therefore, Mary had heard how this was to take 
place, she uttered words which are the greatest pledge of 
liberty and the greatest charter of freedom the world has 
ever heard: "Be it done unto me according to thy word." As 
in Eden there took place the first espousals of man and 
woman, so, in her, there took place the first espousals of God 
and man, eternity and time, omnipotence and bonds. In 
answer to the question: "Will you give me a man?" the mar- 
riage ceremony of love becomes bathed with new depths of 
freedom: "I will" - And the Word was conceived in her. 

Here, then, is freedom of religion; God respects human 
freedom by refusing to invade humanity and to establish a 
beachhead in time without the free consent of one of His 
creatures. Freedom of Conscience is also involved: before 
Mary could claim as her own the great gifts of God, she had 
[25] to ratify those gifts by an act of will in the Annunciation. 
And there is the freedom of a total abandonment to God: 
our free will is the only thing that is really our own. Our 
health, our wealth, our power - all these God can take from 
us. But our freedom he leaves to us, even in hell. Because 
freedom is our own, it is the only perfect gift that we can 
make to God. And yet here a creature totally, yet freely, 
surrendered her will, so that one might say that it was not a 
matter of Mary's will doing the will of her Son, but of Mary's 
will being lost in that of her Son, Later on in His life he 
would say: "If the Son of Man makes you free, you will be 
free indeed." If this be so, then no one has ever been more 
free than this belle of Liberty, the lady who sang the Mag- 

But there is another freedom revealed through Mary. In 
human marriage there is something personal, and also some- 
thing impersonal or racial. What is personal and free is love, 
because love is always for a unique person; thus, jealousy 
is the guardian of monogamy. What is impersonal and auto- 
matic is sex, since its operation is to some extent outside 
human control. Love belongs to man; sex belongs to God, 
for the effects of it are beyond our determination. When- 
ever a mother gives birth to a babe, she freely wills the act 
of love which made her and her husband two in one flesh. 
But there is also the unknown, the free element in their 
love, namely, the decision whether a child will be born of 
the union - whether it will be a boy or a girl - and the exact 
time of birth; even the moment of its conception is lost in 
some unknown night of love. We are thus accepted by our 
parents, rather than willed by them except indirectly. 

But with Mary there was perfect freedom. Her Divine Son 
[26] was not accepted in any unforeseen or unpredictable way. 
He was willed. There was no element of chance; nothing was 
impersonal, for He was fully willed in mind and in body. 
How is this true? He was willed in mind because, when the 
angel explained the miracle, Mary said: "Be it done unto me 
according to thy word." Then he was willed in Body for now, 
not in some past obscure night; conception took place as in 
the full effulgence of the brightness of the morn does the 
Divine Spirit of Love begin weaving the garment of flesh for 
the Eternal Word. The time was deliberately chosen; the 
consent was voluntary; the physical cooperation was free. 
It was the only birth in all the world that was truly willed 
and, therefore, truly free. 

Every birth partakes of the nature of the plant kingdom 
in that the flower has its roots on the earth, although its blos- 
soms open to the heavens. In generation, the body comes 
from parents who are of the earth; the soul comes from God, 
Who is in Heaven. In Mary, there was hardly any earth at all 
except herself; all was Heaven. The other love that conceived 
within her was the Holy Spirit; the Person born of her was the 
Eternal Word - the union of the Godhead and manhood was 
through the mysterious alchemy of the Trinity. She alone 
was of earth, and yet she, too, seemed more of Heaven. 

Other mothers know that a new life beats within them, 
through the pulsations within the body. Mary knew that 
Divine Life beat within her, through her soul in communion 
with an angel. Other mothers become conscious of mother- 
hood through physical changes; Mary knew through the 
message of an angel, and the overshadowing of the Holy 
Spirit. Nothing that comes from the body is as free as that 
which comes from the mind: there are mothers who yearn 
[27] for children, but they have to wait upon processes subject 
to nature. In Mary alone, a Child waited not on nature, but 
on her acceptance of the Divine Will. All she had to say was 
Fiat ["so be it"], and she conceived. This is what all birth would 
have been without sin - a matter of human wills uniting themselves 
with the Divine Will and, through the union of bodies, shar- 
ing in the creation of new life through the usual processes of 
human generation. The Virgin Birth is, therefore, synonymous 
with Birth in Freedom. 

Mary! - we poor creatures of earth are stumbling over our 
freedoms, fumbling over our choices. Millions of us are seek- 
ing to give up their freedom - some by repudiating it, because 
of the burden of their guilt - some, by surrendering it to the 
moods and fashions of the time - others, by absorption into 
Communism, where there is only one will which is the Dic- 
tator's, and where the only love is hate and revolution! 

We speak much of freedom today, Mary, because we are 
losing it -just as we speak most of health when we are sick. 
Thou art the Mistress of Freedom because thou didst undo the 
false freedom that makes men slaves to their passions by 
pronouncing the word God Himself said when He made 
light, and again when thy Son redeemed the world Fiat! 
Or, be it done unto me according to God's will. As the "no" 
of Eve proves that the creature was made by love and is there- 
fore free, so thy Fiat proves that the Creature was made for 
love, as well. Teach us, then, that there is no freedom except 
in doing, out of love, what thou didst do in the Annunciation, 
namely, saying Yes to what Jesus asks. 

The Song of the Woman: The Visitation 

[28] One of the most beautiful moments in history was that 
when pregnancy met pregnancy when childbearers became the 
first heralds of the King of Kings. All pagan religions begin 
with the teachings of adults, but Christianity begins with the 
birth of a Child. From that day to this, Christians have ever 
been the defenders of the family and the love of generation. 
If we ever sat down to write out what we would expect the 
Infinite God to do, certainly the last thing we would expect 
would be to see Him imprisoned in a carnal ciborium for nine 
months; and the next to last thing we would expect is that 
the "greatest man ever born of woman" while yet in his 
mother's womb, would salute the yet imprisoned God-man. 
But this is precisely what took place in the Visitation. 

At the Annunciation the archangel told Mary that her 
cousin, Elizabeth, was about to become the mother of John 
the Baptist. Mary was then a young girl, but her cousin was 
''advanced in years," that is, quite beyond the normal age of 
conceiving. "See, moreover, how it fares with thy cousin 
Elizabeth; she is old, yet she too has conceived a son; she 
who was reproached with barrenness is now in her sixth 
month, to prove that nothing is impossible with God. And 
[29] Mary said, 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done 
unto me according to thy word.' And with that the angel left 
her." (Luke 1:36-38) 

The birth of Christ is without regard to man; the birth of 
John the Baptist is without regard to age! "Nothing is im- 
possible with God." The Scripture continues the story: "In 
the days that followed, Mary rose up and went with all haste 
to a city of Juda, in the hill country where Zachary dwelt; 
and entering in she gave Elizabeth greeting. No sooner had 
Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, than the child leaped in 
her womb; and Elizabeth herself was filled with the Holy 
Ghost; so that she cried out with a loud voice, "Blessed are 
thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 
How have I deserved to be thus visited by the mother of my 
Lord? Why, as soon as ever the voice of thy greeting sounded 
in my ears, the child in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed art 
thou for thy believing; the message that was brought to thee 
from the Lord shall have fulfillment." (Luke 1:39-45) 

Mary "went with all haste"; she is always in a hurry to do 
good. With deliberate speed she becomes the first nurse of 
Christian civilization. The woman hastens to meet a woman. 
They serve best their neighbor who bear the Christ within 
their hearts and souls. Bearing in herself the Secret of Sal- 
vation, Mary journeys five days from Nazareth to the city 
of Hebron where, according to tradition, rested the ashes of 
the founders of the people of God, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

The terraced-fields of Juda 
pregnant with seed 
called out to her 
as she passed, 
praising the Child 
[30] she was yet to bear, 
invoking His Blessing 
on their expectancy. 

(Calvin Le Compte, I Sing of a Maiden, Macmillan, 1949) 

"She gave Elizabeth greeting"; springtime served the 
autumn. She, who is to bear Him Who will say: "I came not 
to be ministered unto but to minister" now ministers unto 
her cousin who bears only His trumpet and His voice in the 
wilderness. Nothing so provokes the service of the needy as 
the consciousness of one's own unworthiness when visited by 
the grace of God, The handmaid of the Lord becomes the 
handmaid of Elizabeth. 

On hearing the woman's greeting, the child whom Eliza- 
beth bore within her "leaped in her womb." The Old Testa- 
ment is here meeting the New Testament; the shadows 
dissolve with joy before the substance. All the longings and 
expectations of thousands of years as to Him Who would 
be the Saviour are now fulfilled in this one ecstatic moment 
when John the Baptist greets Christ, the Son of the Living 

Mary is present at three births: at the birth of John the 
Baptist, at the birth of her own Divine Son, and at the 
"birth" of John, the Evangelist, at the foot of the Cross, as 
the Master saluted him: "Behold thy mother!" Mary, the 
Woman, presided at the three great moments of life: at a 
birth on the occasion of the Visitation, at a marriage at the 
Marriage Feast of Cana, and at a Death, or surrender of Life, 
at the Crucifixion of her Divine Son. 

"The child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth herself was 
filled with the Holy Ghost." A Pentecost came before Pente- 
 [31] cost. The physical body of Christ within Mary now fills 
John the Baptist with the Spirit of Christ; thirty-three years later 
the Mystical Body of Christ, His Church, will be filled with 
the Holy Spirit, as Mary, too, will be in the midst of the 
Apostles abiding in prayer. John is sanctified by Jesus. So 
Jesus is not as John - not man alone, but God, as well. 

The second part of the second most beautiful prayer in 
the world, the Hail Mary, is now about to be written; the 
first part was spoken by an angel: "Hail (Mary) full of 
grace; the Lord is with Thee; blessed art thou amongst 
women." (Luke 1:28) 

Now Elizabeth adds the second part in a "loud voice"; 
"Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of 
thy womb (Jesus)" Old age is here not jealous of youth or 
privilege, for Elizabeth makes the first public proclamation 
that Mary is the Mother of God: "How have I deserved to 
be thus visited by the mother of my Lord?" She learned it less 
from Mary's lips than from the Spirit of God nestling over her 
womb. Mary received the Spirit of God through an angel; 
Elizabeth was the first to receive it through Mary. 

Cousin-nurse at birth, Mother-nurse at death. There is 
nothing Mary has that is for herself alone - not even her 
Son. Before He is born, her Son belongs to others. No sooner 
does she have the Divine Host within herself than she rises 
from the Communion rail of Nazareth to visit the aged and to 
make her young. Elizabeth would never live to see her son 
lose his head to the dancing stepdaughter of Herod, but 
Mary would live and die at once in seeing her Son taste death, 
that death might be no more. 

Thomas Merton has compared John the Baptist in his 
mother's womb to the contemplative, such as the Trappist, 
[32] for John the Baptist as the first "Anchorite" lives for God 
in secret. 

Why do you fly from the drowned shores of Galilee, 
From the sands and the lavender water? 
Why do you leave the ordinary world, Virgin of Nazareth, 
The yellow fishing boats, the farms, 
The wine smelling yards and low cellars 
Or the oilpress, and the women by the well? 
Why do you fly those markets, 
Those suburban gardens, 
The trumpets of the jealous lilies, 
Leaving them all, lovely among the lemon trees? 

You have trusted no town 
With the news behind your eyes. 
You have drowned Gabriel's word in thoughts like seas 
And turned toward the stone mountain 
To the treeless places. 
Virgin of God, why are your clothes like sails? 
The day Our Lady, full of Christ, 
Entered the dooryard of her relative 
Did not her steps, light steps, lay on the paving leaves like gold? 
Did not her eyes grey as doves 
Alight like the peace of a new world upon that house, 
upon miraculous Elizabeth? 

Her salutation 
Sings in the stone valley like a Charterhouse bell: 
And the unborn saint John 
Wakes in his mothers body, 
Bounds with the echoes of discovery. 
Sing in your cell, small anchorite! 
How did you see her in the eyeless dark? 

 [33] What secret syllable 
Woke your young faith to the mad truth 
That an unborn baby could be washed in the Spirit of God? 
Oh burning joy! 
What seas of life were planted by that voice! 
With what new sense 
Did your wise heart receive her Sacrament, 
And know her cloister Christ? 

You need no eloquence, wild bairn, 
Exulting in your heritage, 
Jour ecstasy is your apostolate, 
For whom to kick is contemplata tradere 
Your joy is the vocation 
Of Mother Church's hidden children 
Those who by vow lie buried in the cloister or the hermitage 
The speechless Trappist, or the grey, granite Carthusian, 
The quiet Carmelite, the barefoot Clare 
Planted in the night of contemplation, 
Sealed in the dark and waiting to be born. 

Night is our diocese and silence is our ministry 
Poverty our charity and helplessness our tongue-tied sermon. 
Beyond the scope of sight or sound we dwell upon the air 
Seeking the world's gain in an unthinkable experience. 
Waiting upon the first far drums of Christ the Conqueror, 
Planted like sentinels upon the world's frontier.  

(Thomas Merton, "The Quickening of St. John the Baptist," from The 
Tears of the Blind Lions) 

Elizabeth, describing how the God-man hidden within 
Mary worked on her soul and the new life within her old 
body, exclaimed: "Why, as soon as ever the voice of thy greet- 
ing sounded in my ears, the child in my womb leaped for 
[34] joy. Blessed art thou for thy believing; the message that was 
brought to thee from the Lord shall have fulfillment." (Luke 
1:44, 45) Eve had believed the serpent; Elizabeth now 
praises Mary for blotting out the ruin of Eve by believing 
in God. 

But no sooner did an unborn child leap with joy in a 
prison house of flesh than a song leaped with joy to Mary's 
lips. To sing a song is to possess one's soul. Maria, the sister 
of Moses, sang after the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea. 
Deborah sang after the defeat of the Canaanites. Wherever 
liberty is, there the free sing. Elizabeth's husband sang the 
Benedictus to usher in the New Order, for Our Lord came 
"not to destroy the law but to fulfill it." Yet only as a Mirror, 
in whom Elizabeth sees reflected the unborn Emmanuel, does 
Mary glow with the song of those future days when He alone 
shall be the Light of the World. Mary smiles through tears of 
joy, and she makes rainbow of a song. At least until the 
Birth, the Woman shall have mirth. After those nine months 
He, Who is sheathed within her flesh, would say: "I come not 
to bring peace, but the sword" (Matt. 10:34) 

The Magnificat is the hymn of a mother with a Child Who 
is at once the "Ancient of Days" Like a great artist, who has 
finished a painting in a few months, Mary could say: "In 
how short a time, and yet it is my life," so the song sprang 
from Mary's lips, like a jet in a few seconds - and yet she 
was a lifetime in composing it. 

She gathered up the soul melodies of her people - a song 
of David, a song above all which Hannah sang centuries 
before at the door of the tabernacle of Shiloh, when she 
brought her infant son Samuel, "to lend him to the Lord as 
long as He liveth." (1 Sam. 1:28) But Mary makes their 
[35] words and her own refer not to the past, but to the future, 
when the Law of Fear will give way to the Law of Love, and 
when another life, another kingdom, will arise in a towering 
flight of sanctity and praise. 

"My soul magnifies the Lord; My spirit has found joy in 
God, Who is my Saviour." The faces of women had been 
veiled for centuries, and the faces of men were veiled, too, 
in the sense that men hid themselves from God. But now 
that the veil of sin is lifted, the woman stands upright and 
looks at the face of God, to praise Him. When the Divine 
enters into the human, then the soul thinks less of asking 
than of loving Him. The lover seeks no favors from the be- 
loved; Mary has no petitions, but only praise. As the soul 
becomes detached from things and is conscious of itself and of 
its destiny, it knows itself only in God. The egotist magnifies 
himself; but Mary magnifies the Lord. The carnal think first of 
body, and the mediocre think of God as an afterthought. In 
Mary nothing takes precedence over Him Who is God the 
Creator, the Lord of history, and the Saviour of mankind. 

When our friends praise us for our deeds, we thank them 
for their kindness. When Elizabeth extols Mary, Mary glori- 
fies her God. Mary receives praise as a mirror receives light: 
she stores it not, nor even acknowledges it, but makes it pass 
from her to God to Whom is due all praise, all honor and 
thanksgiving. The shortened form of this song is: "Thank 
God." Her whole personality is to be at the service of her 
God. Too often do men praise God with our tongues, while 
our hearts are far from Him. "Words go up, but thoughts 
remain below" - But it was the soul and spirit of Mary, and 
not her lips, which overflowed in words, because the secret 
of Love within had already burst its bonds. 

[36]Why magnify God, Who cannot become less by subtrac- 
tion through our atheism, or greater by the addition of our 
praise? It is true not in Himself does God change stature 
through our recognition, any more than, because a simpleton 
mocks the beauty of a Raphael, the painting loses its beauty. 
But, in us, God is capable of increase and decrease as we are 
lovers or sinners. As our ego inflates, the need of God seems 
to be less; as our ego deflates, the need of God appears in its 
true hunger. 

The love of God is reflected in the soul of the just, as the 
light of the sun is magnified by a mirror. So Mary's Son is the 
Sun; for she is the moon. She is the nest - He the Fledgling 
Who will fly to a higher Tree and will then call her home. 
She calls Him her Lord or Saviour. Even though she is pre- 
served free from the stain of original sin, for it is due en- 
tirely to the merits of the Passion and Death of her Divine 
Son. In herself she is nothing, and she has nothing. He is 
everything! Because He has looked graciously upon the low- 
liness of His handmaid - Because He Who is Mighty, He 
whose name is Holy, has wrought these wonders for me. 

The proud end in despair, and the last act of despair is 
suicide or the taking of one's life, which is no longer bear- 
able. The humble are necessarily the joyful; for where there 
is no pride, there can be no self-centeredness, making joy 

Mary's song has this double note; her spirit rejoices be- 
cause God has looked down on her lowliness. A box that is 
filled with sand cannot be filled with gold; a soul that is 
bursting with its own ego can never be filled with God. There 
is no limit on God's part to His possession of a soul; it is the 
[37] soul alone which can limit His welcome, as a window cur- 
tain limits the light. The more empty the soul is of self, the 
greater the room in it for God. The larger the emptiness of 
a nest, the bigger the bird that can be housed therein. There 
is an intrinsic relation between the humility of Mary and the 
Incarnation of the Son of God within. She whom the heavens 
could not contain now tabernacles the King of the Heavens, 
Itself. The Most High looks on the lowliness of His handmaid. 

Mary's self-emptying, alone, would not have been enough, 
had not He Who is her God, her Lord and Saviour "humbled 
Himself." Though the cup be empty, it cannot hold the 
ocean. People are like sponges. As each sponge can hold only 
so much water and then reaches a point of saturation, so 
every person can hold only so much of honor. After the 
saturation point is reached, instead of the man's wearing the 
purple, the purple wears the man. It is always after the honor 
is accepted that the recipient moans in false humility: "Lord, 
I am not worthy." 

But here, after the honor is received, Mary, instead of 
standing on her privilege, becomes a servant-nurse of her 
aged cousin and, in the midst of that service, sings a song 
in which she calls herself the Lord's handmaid or better 
still the bondwoman of God, a slave who is simply His prop- 
erty and one who has no personal will except His own. 
Selflessness is shown as the true self. "There was no room 
in the inn," because the inn was filled. There was room in 
the stable, because there were no egos there only an ox 
and an ass. 

God looked over the world for an empty heart but not 
a lonely heart - a heart that was empty like a flute on which 
[38] He might pipe a tune - not lonely like an empty abyss, 
which is filled by death. And the emptiest heart He could 
find was the heart of a Lady. Since there was no self there, 
He filled it with His very Self. 

"Behold, from this day forward, all generations will count 
me blessed!' These are Miraculous words. How can we ex- 
plain them, except by the Divinity of her Son? How could 
this country girl, coming from the despised village of Naza- 
reth and wrapped in anonymity by Judean mountains, fore- 
see in future generations how painters like Michelangelo and 
Raphael; poets, like Sedulius, Cynewulf, Jacopone da Todi, 
Chaucer, Thompson, and Wordsworth; theologians, like 
Ephrem, Bonaventure, and Aquinas, the obscure of little 
villages and the learned and the great would pour out their 
praise of her in an unending stream, as the world's first love, 
and say of their impoverished rhymes: 

And men looked up at the woman made for the morning 
When the stars were young, 
For whom, more rude than a beggars rhyme in the gutter, 
These songs are sung? 

Her Son will later give the law explaining her immortal 
remembrance: "He that humbleth himself, shall be exalted." 
Humility before God is compensated for by glory before 
men. Mary had taken the vow of virginity and, seemingly, 
thus prevented her beauty from passing on to other genera- 
tions. And yet now through the power of God she sees 
herself as the mother of countless generations, without ever 
ceasing to be a Virgin. All generations who lost the favor of 
God by eating the forbidden fruit will now exalt her, because 
[39] through her they enter once again into the possession of 
the Tree of Life. Within three months Mary has had her eight 

1. "Blessed art thou because full of grace," said the Arch- 
angel Gabriel. 
2. "Blessed art thou for thou shalt conceive in thy womb 
the Son of the Most High, God." 
3. "Blessed art thou, Virgin Mother, for "the Holy Spirit 
will come upon thee, and the power of the Most High 
shall overshadow thee." 
4. "Blessed art thou for doing God's Will: "Be it done unto 
me according to Thy Word." 
5. "Blessed art thou for believing" said Elizabeth. 
6. "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb (Jesus)" added Eliza- 
7. "Blessed art thou among women." 
8. "Blessed art thou, for the message that was brought to 
thee from the Lord shall have fulfillment." 

Lowliness and exaltation are one in her; lowliness because, 
judging herself to be unworthy of being the Mother of Our 
Lord, she took the vow of virginity; exalted because God, 
looking upon what Mary believed was her nothingness, once 
more created a world out of "nothing." 

Blessedness is happiness. Mary had everything that could 
make a person truly happy. For to be happy, three things 
are required: to have everything one wants; to have it 
united in one person who is loved with all the ardor of one's 
soul; and to know that this is possessed without sin. Mary 
had all three. 

[40] If her Divine Son had not intended that His Mother should 
be honored where He is adored, He would never have per- 
mitted these prophetic words of hers to have had fulfillment. 
He would have nudged the hands of the artists at their can- 
vas, would have stopped the lips of the poets, and would have 
frozen our fingers as we told our beads. 

How quickly the great men and women are forgotten, 
and how few of their names are remembered at all! A guide- 
book is necessary for us to identify the dead in Westminster 
Abbey; few are the citizens who know their World War 
heroes, after whom the streets were named. But here in 
Mary is a young girl, obscure and unknown, in an outpost of 
the Roman Empire; she who affirms that the law of forget- 
fulness will be suspended in her favor, and she prophesies 
it before a single Gospel has been written, before the Son of 
God has seen the light of day in the flesh. 

"He has mercy upon those who ear Him, from generation 
to generation; He has done valiantly with the strength of His 
arm driving the proud astray in the conceit of their hearts; 
He has put down the mighty from their seat, and exalted the 
lowly; He has filed the hungry with good things, and sent 
the rich away empty handed; He has protected His servant 
Israel, keeping His merciful design in remembrance, accord- 
ing to the promise which He made to our forefathers, Abra- 
ham and his posterity for evermore." 

This part of the Magnificat is the most revolutionary docu- 
ment ever written, a thousand times more revolutionary than 
anything Karl Marx wrote. Relating these to the preceding 
verses, it is suggestive to compare Mary's Revolution with the 
Revolution of Marx and Communism. 



[41] Mary begins with the soul and God. "My soul magnifies the 
Lord; my spirit has found joy in God Who is my Saviour." 
The whole universe revolves around these two realities: the 
soul aspiring to an infinity of happiness which God alone 
can supply. 


Marx ended the first of his books with the words: "I hate 
all the gods." For Communism there is only matter endowed 
with its own inner contradiction which begets movement. 
Since there is only matter, there is no soul. The belief 
that each man has value, "is founded," said Marx, "on the 
Christian illusion that every man has a soul." 

There is no God, because a belief in God alienates man 
from himself and makes him subject to someone outside self. 
There is no God, but man. "Religion is the Opium of the 



"All generations will count me blessed." She will be an 
exception to the law of forgetfulness, because the Lord of 
History has willed that she be venerated through the centuries. 
History is Providentially determined. The progress and 
fall of civilizations is due to the determined moral ordering of 
human life. Peace is the tranquility of order, and order implies 
justice to God and neighbor. Peace fails when each man seeks 
his own and forgets the love of God and neighbor. 


History is dialectically determined. It is not God, nor the 
way men live that decides the progress and decay of civiliza- 
tion, but a law of class conflict which continues until Com- 
munism takes over and classes no longer exist. The future is 
determined by matter. The [42] present generation and all 
the past can look to a remote future where they will dance 
on the grave of their ancestors. Certain classes are destined 
to be the funeral pyre to light future generations, lifting 
clenched fists over the corpse of Lenin. 



"He has mercy upon those who fear Him, from generation to 
generation." Fear is here understood as filial, namely, a 
shrinking from hurting one who is loved. Such is the fear 
a son has for a devoted father, and the fear a Christian has of 
Christ. Fear is here related to love. 


Communism is founded not on filial but on servile fear, the 
kind of fear a slave has for a tyrant, a worker has for a dic- 
tator. The fear begotten by the revolution is a compulsion 
neurosis, born not of love but power. A revolution which 
destroys filial fear of God always ends in the creation of 
servile fear of man. 


Both Mary and Marx advocate the exaltation of the poor, the 
dethroning of the proud, the emptying of the rich in favor of the 
socially disinherited, but they differ in their technique. 


Violence is necessary. "The Kingdom of Heaven suffers 
violence." But the violence must be against self, against 
its selfishness, greed, lust, and pride. 

The sword that strikes must be thrust inward to rid oneself 
of all that would make one despise neighbor. 

The transfer of wealth, which makes for the prosperity 
of the poor, is inspired by an inner charity which loves God 
and neighbor. 

Man has nothing to lose but the chains of sin, which dark- 
ens his intellect and weakens his will. By throwing off sin 
through the merits of Christ, man becomes a child of God, 
an heir of Heaven, enjoying inner peace in this life and 
even amidst its trials, and an ultimate and final ecstasy of 
love in heaven. 


[43] Violence is necessary. But the violence must be against 
neighbor, against those who own, who believe in God, and in 
democracy. Egotism must be disguised as social justice. 

The sword that strikes must be thrust outward to rid society 
of all that would despise a revolution based on hate. 

The transfer of wealth takes place through "violent confisca- 
tion" and the shifting of booty and loot from one man's pocket 
to another. 

Man has nothing to lose but the chains which bind him to 
God and to property. Thanks, then, to atheism and socialism, 
man will be restored to himself as the true god. 

It is remarkable how Mary begins her Magnificat with her 
personal experiences, and soon passes on to identify herself 
with the whole human race. She looks ahead and sees what 
the effect of the birth of Her Son will be to the world, how 
it will improve the whole condition of human life, how it will 
free the oppressed, feed the hungry, and assist the helpless. 
And when she said these words, her Son was not yet born - 
although one would think, from the joy of the song, that He 
[44] was already in her arms. She is singing here a song of pure 
faith about something certain to happen because God will 
make it come true, and not predicting the mere revolution 
of blind material forces. 

There is an intrinsic antagonism between her revolution 
and any other, because hers is based on the true psychology 
of human nature. Hers is based on the existence of an im- 
mense want, so serious and so imperative that every honest 
heart must crave for its satisfaction. Happy are they who 
experience, within themselves, the expelling of pride and 
egotism, and in whom spiritual hunger is fed - who dis- 
cover, before it is too late, that they are poor, and naked, 
and blind, and who seek to clothe themselves with the rai- 
ment of grace which her Son brings. 

When Did Belief in the Virgin Birth Begin? 

[45] In the study of law one of the most important subjects is 
evidence. One of the reasons why so few have arrived at a 
truth in which they believe absolutely is that they have for- 
gotten the importance of proof. Evidence is one of the im- 
portant divisions of theology. No belief can be accepted 
without proof or a "motive of credibility." One might say 
that the greatest skeptics are the Christians, for they will 
not believe in the Resurrection until they see the crucified 
and dead Man arise from the grave by the Power of God 
Himself. One could take any doctrine of Christianity as an 
example of proof and of evidence, but we will take one 
which the modern world has rejected for the last 300 years 
(after believing in it for the first 1600 years), namely, the 
Virgin Birth of Jesus from His Mother Mary, who is a Virgin. 
Before adducing our evidence, it is important to realize 
that the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, does 
not derive its belief from the Scriptures alone. This will come 
as a surprise to those who, whenever they hear of a particular 
Christian teaching, ask: "Is it in the Bible?" The Church was 
spread throughout the entire Roman Empire before a single 
book of the New Testament was written. There were already 
[46] many martyrs in the Church before there were either Gos- 
pels or Epistles. An authoritative and recognized ministry was 
carrying on the Lord's work at His command, speaking in 
His Name as witnesses of what they had seen, before any- 
one decided to write a single line of the New Testament. 

To the early followers of Our Lord, and to us, the authority 
of the Apostles was equal to the authority of Christ, in the 
sense that it was the continuation of His teaching. Our Lord 
said: "He that heareth you, heareth me." The Apostles first 
taught and then later on, two and only two of the twelve 
left a Gospel. To His Apostles Our Lord said: "Going, there- 
fore, teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the 
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching 
them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded 
you; and behold I am with you all days even to the consum- 
mation of the world." (Matt. 28:19, 20) And again He said: 
"As the Father hath sent me, I also send you." (John 20:21) 
The Apostles were the nucleus of the Church, the new 
Israel, the first visible manifestation of Christ's Mystical 
Body. That is why on Pentecost they chose one out of the 
community of 120 to take the place of Judas. The successor 
had to be an eyewitness of the Gospel events; that was the 
absolute condition of being an Apostle. The Church was an 
organic body of cohesion, the source of unity and authority 
with Peter presiding because he was Divinely appointed. 
It would still be almost twenty-five years before the first of 
the Gospels would be written; hence those who isolate a 
single text from the Bible from this apostolic tradition, or 
study it apart from it, are living and thinking in a vacuum. 
The Gospels need tradition as the lungs need air, and as the 
eyes light, and as the plant the earth! The Good Book was 
[47] second, and not first. When finally the Gospels were written, 
they were the mere secretarial reports of what was already 

Pick up the Gospel of Luke, which was written sometime 
before the year 67, and read the opening lines: "For as much 
as many have taken hand to set forth in order, a narration 
of the things that have been accomplished among us: Ac- 
cording as they have delivered them unto us, who from the 
beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word: It 
seemed good to me also, having diligently attained to all 
things from the beginning, to write to thee in order, most 
excellent Theophilus, that thou mayest know the truth of 
those words in which thou hast been instructed." (Luke 
1:1-4) Luke did not write to Theophilus to tell him some- 
thing brand new about someone who died over thirty-four 
years before. Theophilus, like every other member of the 
Apostolic Church in the Roman Empire, already knew about 
the miracle of the loaves and fishes, about the Resurrection, 
and the Virgin Birth. It is similar to this. If we pick up a 
history book which tells us that in 1914 World War I began, 
it does not create that belief in us, it just confirms what we 
already know. So, too, the Gospels set down in a more sys- 
tematic way what was already believed. If we had lived in 
the first twenty-five years of the Church, how would we 
have answered the question: "How can I know what I am to 
believe?" We could not have said, "I will look in the Bible." 
For there was no New Testament Bible then. We would have 
believed what the Apostolic Church was teaching and, until 
the invention of printing, it would have been difficult for 
any of us to have made ourselves so-called infallible private 
interpreters of the book. 

[48] Never once did Our Lord tell these witnesses of His to 
write. He Himself only wrote once in His life, and that was 
on the sand. But He did tell them to preach in His Name and 
to be witnesses to Him to the end of the earth, until the 
consummation of time. Hence those who take this or that text 
out of the Bible to prove something are isolating it from the 
historical atmosphere in which it arose, and from the word 
of mouth which passed Christ's truth. If there are three per- 
sons in a room, there are also in it six legs and six arms 
but they never create a problem because they are related to 
the physical organism. But if we found one arm outside the 
door, it would be a tremendous problem, because it is iso- 
lated from the organic whole. So it is with certain Christian 
truths, which are isolated from the whole - for example, the 
doctrine of penance if it is isolated from original sin. It is 
only in the light of the circle of truth that the segments of 
the circle have a meaning. 

When finally the Gospels were written, they recorded a 
tradition; they did not create it. It was already there. After 
a while men had decided to put in writing this living tradition 
and voice, which explains the beginning of the Gospel of 
Luke: "That thou mayest know the truth of those words in 
which thou hast been instructed." The Gospels did not start 
the Church; the Church started the Gospels. The Church did 
not come out of the Gospels, the Gospels came out of the 

The Church preceded the New Testament, not the New 
Testament the Church. First there was not a Constitution of 
the United States, and then Americans, who in the light of 
that Constitution decided to form a government and a nation. 
The Founding Fathers preceded the Foundation; so the 
[49] Mystical Body of Christ preceded the reports written later 
by inspired secretaries. And incidentally, how do we know 
the Bible is inspired? It does not say so! Matthew does not 
conclude his Gospel saying: "Be sure to read Mark; he is 
inspired, too,'' Furthermore, the Bible is not a book. It is a 
collection of seventy-two books in all. It is worth opening 
a Bible to see if we have them all and have not been cheated. 
These widely scattered books cannot bear witness to their 
own inspiration. It is only by something outside the Bible 
that we know it is inspired. We will not go into that point 
now, but it is worth looking into. 

When finally the Gospels were written, they did not prove 
what Christians believed; nor did they initiate that belief; 
they merely recorded in a systematic manner what they al- 
ready knew. Men did not believe in the Crucifixion because 
the Gospels said there was a Crucifixion; they wrote down 
the story of the Crucifixion, because they already believed 
in it. The Church did not come to believe in the Virgin Birth, 
because the Gospels tell us there is a Virgin Birth; it was be- 
cause the living word of God in His Mystical Body already 
believed it, that they set it down in the Gospels. 

A second fact to be remembered is that this Mystical Body 
of Christ has a memory, as we have a memory. If our physical 
life extends back forty-five years, we can remember two 
World Wars. We speak of them as a living witness, not from 
the books written, but from having lived through them, and 
maybe through having fought in them. We may later on 
have read the books about these two World Wars. Yet they 
are not the beginning of our knowledge, but only a recalling 
or a deepening of what we already knew. In like manner, 
our Lord is the Head of the new humanity, the new fellow- 
[50] ship, or the spiritual organism which St. Paul calls His Mys- 
tical Body. To this Mystical Body Christ is associated, first in 
His Apostles, and then in all who believed in Him throughout 
the centuries. This Body, too, has a memory, reaching back 
to Christ. It knows that the Resurrection is true, because it, 
the Church, was there. The cells of our body change every 
seven years, but we are the same personality. The cells of 
the Mystical Body which we are, too, may change every 
fifty or sixty years; yet it is still Christ that lives in that Body. 
The Church knows that Christ rose from the dead and that 
the Spirit descended on the Apostles on Pentecost, because 
the Church was there from the beginning. The Church has 
a memory of over 1900 years, and this memory is called Tra- 
dition. The Apostles' Creed, which was an accepted formula 
in the Church around the year 100 and which summed up 
the Apostles' teaching, is as follows:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of Heaven 
and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord, Who 
was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suf- 
fered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. 
He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the 
dead. He ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the right Hand of 
God, the Father Almighty, from whence He shall come to judge 
the living and the dead. 

I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the 
Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection 
of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. 

Note the words: "Conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of 
the Virgin Mary." The truths expressed in the Creed were 
essential for entrance into the Church. Everyone who was 
baptized early into Christ's Mystical Body believed in each 
[51] of these truths. The Virgin Birth was as much an accepted 
Truth as the Resurrection in the first Christian centuries. 

There is not one single quotation of the Gospels in the 
Creed. The early members of the Church were recording the 
early Christian tradition, of which the Gospels were only the 
literary expression. There are also several volumes of writ- 
ings from within the first hundred years of the life of Our 
Lord; for example, the writing of St. Clement, one of the suc- 
cessors of St. Peter, who wrote in the year 92; and also, 
Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna, one of the successors of 
John the Evangelist; and Irenaeus, who names the twelve 
Bishops of Rome; and Ignatius of Antioch, who said that he 
wanted to be "ground like wheat between the jaws of lions 
to be a living bread for His Saviour." 

Many of these writers do not quote the Gospels. We have 
1500 lines from Clement, and yet only two texts of his are 
from the New Testament; he was recording the Christian be- 
liefs, accepted by the witnesses of Christ. Polycarp quotes the 
Gospel only three times, for he lived on familiar terms with 
many who had seen Our Lord, and he wrote what he knew 
and had learned from the Apostles. Ignatius of Antioch (who 
lived within seventy years of the Life of Our Lord) wrote: 
"Our God, Jesus Christ was conceived of the Holy Ghost . . . 
and was truly born of a Virgin." 

There is a double evidence from which we can draw, to 
learn true Christian teaching: one is the revealed Word of 
God in the Scriptures - the other is the continuous teaching 
of the Church from the very beginning, that is, its living 
memory. Just as lawyers, in proving a point, use not only the 
bare statement of law, but also the way the courts have 
understood and interpreted that law; so too, the Scriptures 
[52] are not a dead letter, but are living and breathing in the 
beautiful context of a spiritual fellowship. 

In the year 108, there were still many living who had been 
boys when Our Lord was crucified who, as young men 
saw and conversed with the Apostles before they were 
martyred and who, in scattered parts of the Roman Em- 
pire, were already familiar with the Christian tradition 
passed on through the Church. Some of the other Apostles 
were not martyred until later - John did not die until the 
year 100. Some of these early writers were closer to John 
and other Apostles than we are to World War I. And this 
much is certain: if the Apostles, who lived with Our Lord 
and who heard Him speak on the open hills and in the tem- 
ple - who listened to Him preach on the Kingdom of God 
forty days after His Resurrection - did not teach the Virgin 
Birth, no one else would have taught it. It was too unusual 
an idea for men to make up; it would have been ordinarily 
too difficult for acceptance if it had not come from Christ 

The one man who might be most inclined to doubt the his- 
torical fact of the Virgin Birth on natural grounds (because 
he was a physician) was the second Evangelist, St. Luke. 
And yet he tells us the most about it. From the beginning 
Our Lord had many enemies. Certain aspects of His teaching 
were denied by heretics, but there was one teaching that no 
early heretic denied, and that was that He was born of a 
Virgin. One would think that this should have been the doc- 
trine first attacked; but the Virgin Birth was accepted by 
believers and early heretics alike. It would have been silly 
to try to convince anyone of the Virgin Birth if he did not 
already believe in the Divinity of Christ; that is why, prob- 
[53] ably, it would have been unwise for Mary to speak of it 
until after the Resurrection, although Joseph, Elizabeth, and 
probably John the Baptist already knew of it and, need 
we say, the Son of God Himself, Who brought it all to 
pass. . . . 

"One-texters" say that the Bible speaks of Our Lord as hav- 
ing brethren; therefore, they conclude, He was not born of 
a Virgin. But this claim can be answered. When a preacher 
in a pulpit addresses his congregation, "My dear brethren" 
it does not mean that everyone in the Church has the same 
mother. Secondly, the word "brother" is used in Sacred Scrip- 
ture in the wide sense, to cover not only one's relatives but 
friends; for example, Abraham calls Lot his brother: "Pray 
let us have no strife between us two, between my shepherds 
and thine; are we not brethren?" (Gen. 13:8) But Lot was 
not a brother. Thirdly, several who are mentioned as brothers 
of Christ, such as James and Joseph, are indicated elsewhere 
as the sons of another Mary, the sister of the mother of Jesus 
and wife of Cleophas! "And meanwhile his mother, and his 
mother's sister, Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Mag- 
dalene, had taken their stand beside the Cross of Jesus." 
(John 19:25) Fourthly, James who is particularly mentioned 
as the brother of Jesus: "But I did not see any of the other 
apostles, except James, the Lord's brother" (Gal. 1:19), is 
regularly named in the enumeration of the Apostles, as the 
son of another father, Alphaeus (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; 
Luke 6:15). 

The so-called "brethren" of Our Lord are nowhere men- 
tioned in the Scripture as the sons and daughters of Joseph 
and Mary. Our Blessed Lord Himself used the term "breth- 
rem" in a large sense. "For one is your Master; and all you 
[54] are brethren." (Matt. 23:8) "And stretching forth His hand 
towards His Disciples He said: 'Behold . . . my brethren." 
(Matt. 12:49) Nowhere in Scripture is it said that Joseph 
had begotten brothers and sisters of Jesus, as nowhere does 
it say that Mary had other children besides Her Divine 

The Gospel of St. John assumes the Virgin Birth. We 
humans can be born twice: once of our parents, and once of 
the Holy Spirit, given to us by Our Lord in Baptism. This is 
what Our Lord meant when He told the old man Nicodemus 
that he must be born again, the first birth being of the flesh, 
the second of the spirit. What makes us Christian is this 
second birth through Baptism. But notice how it relates to 
the Virgin Birth of Our Lord. St. John, in the beginning of 
his Gospel, says that Our Lord gave us the "power to be- 
come the Sons of God." Then he tells us that this happens by 
a birth. But he immediately distinguishes, saying that it is 
not like a human birth, because there is in it neither blood, 
nor sex, nor human will, but solely the power of God. This 
statement of St. John assumes a common knowledge of the 
Virgin Birth. But how could any Christian understand such 
a birth, if it had not already happened? No one, who at the 
end of the first century read the beginning of the Gospel of 
St. John, was amazed that he should speak of a new genera- 
tion without sex. For by this time, the whole Christian world 
knew that that is how Christianity had come into being. 
The Virgin Birth is God's idea, not man's. No one would 
have thought of it, if it had never happened. No pagan re- 
ligion has any idea of it; their myths are of the union of gods 
with women, who bore children following a sexual union. 
All the love stories of Zeus and the other gods were of this 
[55] anthropomorphic character. Nothing could be further 
from the truth than to represent these births as "virgin births." 

St Paul also implies the Virgin Birth of Christ by the use of 
a different word for "birth." Speaking of the earthly origin 
of the Son of the God, he writes: "That Gospel, promised 
long ago by means of His prophets in the holy scriptures tells 
us of his Son, descended, in respect of his human birth, from 
the line of David, but, in respect of the sanctified spirit that 
was His, marked out miraculously as the Son of God by His 
resurrection from the dead; Our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 
1:1-4) "Then God sent out his Son on a mission to us. He 
took birth from a woman, took birth as a subject of the law, 
so as to ransom those who were subject to the law, and make 
us sons by adoption." ( Gal 4:4, 5) "He dispossessed Himself, 
and took the nature of a slave, fashioned in the likeness of 
men, and presenting himself to us in human form." (Phil. 
2:7) Whenever St. Paul describes the early incarnation of 
Our Lord, he never uses the ordinary word to describe birth, 
which word is used in every other New Testament passage: 
namely, the verb gennao. But in the four instances where 
he touches on the temporal beginnings of the Son of God, 
he uses an entirely different word, genemenos, which comes 
from an entirely different verb ginomai. 

Never once does he employ the word gennao of Our Lord 
and His Mother, the word meaning to be born, which is used 
throughout the New Testament; but when he speaks of the 
coming of Our Lord, he uses a form of the verb ginomai 
which means "to come into existence," "to become." In one 
passage (Gal. 4:23, 24, 29) he uses the verb "to be born" 
three times, to describe the birth of Ismael and Jacob, but 
refuses to use it in the same chapter and context for the birth 
[56] of Christ. The New Testament thirty-three times speaks 
of the birth of a child, and in each instance uses the word 
gennao, but it is never once used by St. Paul to describe the 
birth of Christ. St. Paul absolutely avoids saying Our Lord 
was born in the usual way. Our Lord was born into the hu- 
man family; He was not born of it. God formed Adam, the 
first man, without the seed of a man; so why should we shrink 
from the thought that the new Adam would also be formed 
without the seed of a man? As Adam was made of the earth, 
into which God breathed a living soul, so the body of Christ 
was formed in the flesh of Mary by the Holy Spirit. So firmly 
rooted was the Virgin Birth in Christian tradition that none 
of the early Apologists ever had to defend the Virgin Birth. 
It was believed in even by heretics, as surely as the Cruci- 
fixion, because it stood on the same footing as a historical fact. 
There are two birth stories in the Gospel: those of Jesus 
and of John the Baptist. But notice the different stress on 
each story. The Gospel story of John the Baptist centers on 
the father, Zachary. The Gospel story of the birth of Jesus, 
centers on the mother, Mary. In each instance, there were 
difficulties from the scientific point of view. Zachary was 
an old man, and his wife had long since passed the age of 
bearing children. "And Zachary said to the angel: 'By what 
sign am I to be assured of this? I am an old man now, and 
my wife is far advanced in age." (Luke 1:18) "But Mary 
said to the angel, 'How can that be, since I have no knowl- 
edge of man?' " (Luke 1:34) Mary was a Virgin with the 
vow of virginity. The power of God had to operate in both 
cases, with Zachary doubting, and Mary accepting. For his 
doubt, Zachary was made dumb for a time. 

[57] No one ever makes a fuss against Zachary and Elizabeth 
bearing "the greatest man ever born of woman" but some do 
fuss about the Virgin Birth. This is not because of the human 
difficulties, for to God these are surmountable. The real 
reason for incredulity is: the attack on the Virgin Birth is a 
subtle attack on the Divinity of Christ. He who believes that 
Our Lord is true God and true man never is troubled with 
the Virgin Birth. 

All Mothers Are Alike Save One 

[58] No mother whose son has won distinction for himself, 
either in a profession or in the field of battle, believes that the 
respect paid her for being his mother detracts from the honor 
or dignity which is paid her son. Why, then, do some minds 
think that any reverence paid to the Mother of Jesus detracts 
from His Power and Divinity? We know the false rejoinder 
of those who say that Catholics "adore" Mary or make her a 
"goddess," but that is a lie. Since no reader of these pages 
would be guilty of such nonsense, it shall be ignored. 

Where does this coldness, forgetfulness, and, at the least, 
indifference to the Blessed Mother start? From a failure to 
realize that her Son, Jesus, is the Eternal Son of God. The 
moment I put Our Divine Lord on the same level with Julius 
Caesar or Karl Marx, with Buddha or Charles Darwin, that 
is, as a mere man among men, then the thought of special 
reverence to His Mother as different from our mothers be- 
comes positively repellent. Each famous man has his mother, 
too. Each person can say: "I have my mother, and mine is as 
good or better than yours." That is why little is written of the 
mothers of any great men because each mother was con- 
[59] sidered the best mother by her son. No one mother of a mortal 
is entitled to more love than any other mother. Therefore no 
sons and daughters should be required to single out someone 
else's mother as the Mother of mothers. 

Our Lord described John the Baptist as "the greatest man 
ever born of woman." Suppose that a cult were started to 
honor his mother Elizabeth as superior to any other mother? 
Who among us would not rebel against it as excessive? Every- 
thing the critics would say of such exaggeration would be well 
taken, for the simple reason that John the Baptist is only a 
man. If Our Lord is just another man, or another ethical re- 
former, or another sociologist, then we share, even with the 
most bigoted, the resentment against thinking that the 
Mother of Jesus is different from any other mother. 

The Fourth Commandment says: "Honor thy father and 
thy mother." It says nothing about honoring Gandhi's mother 
or Napoleon's father. But the Commandment to honor our 
father does not preclude adoring the Heavenly Father. If 
the Heavenly Father sends His Divine Son to this earth, then 
the Commandment to honor our earthly mother does not 
preclude venerating the Mother of the Son of God. 

If Mary were only the Mother of another man, then she 
could not also be our mother, because the ties of the flesh are 
too exclusive. Flesh allows only one mother. The step be- 
tween a mother and a stepmother is long, and few there are 
who can make it. But Spirit allows another mother. Since 
Mary is the Mother of God, then she can be the Mother of 
everyone whom Christ redeemed. 

The key to understanding Mary is this: We do not start 
with Mary. We start with Christ, the Son of the Living God! 
[60] The less we think of Him, the less we think of her; the more 
we think of Him, the more we think of her; the more we 
adore His Divinity, the more we venerate her Motherhood; 
the less we adore His Divinity, the less reason we have for 
respecting her. We could even resent hearing her name, if 
we had become so perverse as not to believe in Christ the 
Son of God. Never will it be found that anyone who really 
loves Our Lord as a Divine Saviour dislikes Mary. Those 
who dislike any devotion to Mary are those who deny His 
Divinity, or who find fault with Our Lord because of what 
He says about Hell, divorce, and Judgment. 

It is on account of Our Divine Lord that Mary receives spe- 
cial attention, and not on account of herself. Left to herself, 
her motherhood would dissolve into humanity. But when 
seen in the light of His Divinity, she becomes unique. Our 
Lord is God Who became Man. Never before or since did 
Eternity become time in a woman, nor did Omnipotence take 
on the bonds of flesh in a maid. It is her Son who makes her 
Motherhood different. 

A Catholic boy from a parochial school was telling a Uni- 
versity professor who lived next door about the Blessed 
Mother. The professor scoffed at the boy, saying: "But there 
is no difference between her and my mother" The boy an- 
swered: "That's what you say, but there's a heck of a lot of 
difference between the sons." 

That is the answer. It is because Our Lord is so different 
from other sons that we set His Mother apart from all moth- 
ers. Because He had an Eternal Generation in the bosom of 
the Father as the Son of God, and a temporal generation in 
the womb of Mary as the Son of Man, His coming created a 
[61] new set of relationships. She is not a private person; all 
other mothers are. We did not make her different; we found her 
different. We did not choose Mary; He did. 

But why was there a Virgin Birth? Because Christ is the 
Son of God, we cannot be as indifferent to the circumstances 
of His Birth as we would be to the birth of the butcher or the 
baker. If Mary told the Apostles after Pentecost about His 
Virgin Birth, it must have made a difference; if the Apostles 
put it in their Creed and teaching, it must have made a dif- 
ference. Once Christ is accepted as the Son of God, there is 
immediate interest not only in His prehistory, which John 
describes in the Prologue of his Gospel, but also in His his- 
tory and particularly in His Birth. 

Is the Virgin Birth fitting and becoming? The challenge to 
our faith in the Virgin Birth is not related by anyone ( except 
in the Jewish Talmud) to sinfulness on Mary's part. The chal- 
lenge concerns the physical possibility of a miraculous process 
of life. By keeping His Mother absolutely stainless, He has pre- 
vented the doubts about His divine paternity from being such 
that they would wound her heart, her womanly heart. It is 
impossible for us to imagine or feel, even to a slight degree, 
the vast ocean of love of Christ for His Mother. Yet if even we 
were faced with the problem of keeping the miasmic breath 
of scandal from our own mothers, what would we not do? 
And is it therefore hard to believe that the omnipotent Son 
of God would do all in His power to protect His Own Mother? 
With this in mind, there are many conclusions apparent. 

No great triumphant leader makes his entrance into the 
city over dust-covered roads, when he could come on a flower- 
strewn avenue. Had Infinite Purity chosen any other port 
[62] of entrance into humanity but that of human purity, it would 
have created a tremendous difficulty namely, how could He 
be sinless, if He was born of sin-laden humanity? If a brush 
dipped in black becomes black, and if cloth takes on the 
color of the dye, would not He, in the eyes of the world, have 
also partaken of the guilt in which all humanity shared? If 
He came to this earth through the wheatfield of moral weak- 
ness, He certainly would have some chaff hanging on the 
garment of His human nature. 

Putting the problem in another way: How could God be- 
come man and yet be a sinless man and the Head of the new 
Humanity? First of all, He had to be a perfect man in order 
to act in our name, to plead our defense, and to pay our debt. 
If I am arrested for speeding, you cannot walk into the court- 
room and say; "Judge, forget it, I will take the blame" If I 
am drowning, I cannot save anyone else who is drowning. 
Unless Our Lord is outside the sin-current of humanity, He 
cannot be Our Saviour. "If the blind lead the blind, then both 
fall into the pit," said Our Lord. If He was to be the new 
Adam, the new Head of Humanity, the Founder of a new 
corporation or Mystical Body of regenerated humanity, as 
Adam was the head of fallen humanity, then He also had to 
be different from all other men. He had to be absolutely per- 
fect, sinless, the Holy of Holies, all that God ever conceived 
man to be. 

Such is the problem: How could God become man and yet 
be sinless man without original sin? How, in the language of 
St. Paul, could He "be like unto us in all things save sin?" 
How could He be a man, by being born of a Woman? He 
could be a sinless man by being born of a Virgin. The first 
[63] statement is obvious; that He is born of a woman, then He 
shares in our humanity. But how would being born of a Vir- 
gin make Him free from original sin? 

Now, it must never be thought that the Incarnation would 
have been impossible without the Virgin Birth. Rash, indeed, 
would be the human mind to dictate to Almighty God the 
methods that He should use in coming to this earth. But once 
the Virgin Birth is revealed, then it is proper for us to inquire 
into its fitness, as we are now doing. The Virgin Birth is im- 
portant because of its bearing upon the solidarity of the 
human race in guilt. The human race became incorporated 
to the first Adam by being born of the flesh; incorporation to 
the new Adam, Christ, is by being born of the spirit, or 
through a Virgin Birth. Thanks to it, we see how Our Blessed 
Lord entered in to the sinful race from the outside. There- 
fore, upon Him the curse did not rest, save as He freely bore 
it for those whom He redeemed by His Blood. Nowhere do 
the New Testament writers argue from the Virgin Birth to 
the Godhead of the Virgin-born. Rather do they argue from 
it His sinless humanity. 

To sum up: in order that Jesus Christ might be a descendant 
of Adam, he had to be born of a daughter of Adam. But the 
process of generation and birth of any individual is in- 
visible. The only way to show that this process in the birth 
of Christ was miraculous was to have its invisible workings 
develop in a woman agreed by all to be incapable of having 
experienced the process - a virgin. Joseph, the just man, stood 
for all humanity when in his heart he questioned the fidelity 
of Mary. More than any other person he knew how cruel it 
was to place that doubt even in the face of the most incon- 
[64] trovertible evidence. He witnessed to Mary's immaculate 
life and her amiability even before her Son was born. His 
doubt was settled by Heaven itself. St. Joseph, more than any 
other human being on this earth, had a right to know the 
circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus. And just as any 
husband is the prime witness of the fidelity of his wife, so, 
too, is Joseph in the case of Mary, his espoused; his testimony 
establishes for all men her virginity and the miraculous na- 
ture of the generation and birth of her Son. 

As Father Joseph Tennant points out, there is a type of this 
miraculous birth in the story of Abraham and Sara. When 
they journeyed down to Egypt, Abraham asked Sara to say 
that she was his sister, rather than his wife, lest the Egyptians 
kill him. The Pharaoh took her into his household. How long 
she lived with the Egyptian king is not indicated, but some 
space of time, and the Pharaoh and his household were pun- 
ished with a sickness because of it. He finally dismissed both 
Abraham and Sara from his palace. There is no expression of 
divine wrath reported in this case. But after God had prom- 
ised that Sara would bear a son whose father would be Abra- 
ham, it was important that there be no doubt in Abraham's 
mind or in anybody else's about the paternity of Sara's son. 
Some time after the promise, in Gerara, there was danger 
that the king, Abimelech, would take her into his harem. With 
shameful cowardice Abraham permitted it to be done. (He 
was punished for this when God ordered him to sacrifice 
Isaac.) But God intervened immediately by appearing to 
Abimelech at night and threatening to wipe out his whole 
kingdom if he dared to touch Sara. "And Abimelech forthwith 
rising up in the night . . . called for Abraham and said to 
him, 'What hast thou done to us?'" It was not enough merely 
[65] to have protected Sara. Abraham had to know from the lips 
of Abimelech himself that Sara was untouched, just as Joseph 
did in the case of Mary. And thus Isaac, the first of the "chil- 
dren of promise" (Gal. 4:28) and of the miraculous seed of 
Abraham, was born. 

Mary was not sinless because she was a virgin, but the best 
sign of her sinlessness was her virginity. Just as the Gospels 
prove the humble humanity of Christ by naming among his 
ancestors Lamech, the boastful murderer, Abraham, the 
coward, Jacob, the liar, Judas, the adulterer, Ruth, the pagan, 
David, the murderer and adulterer, and many idolatrous 
kings, showing that He was like to us in all things except sin, 
so, too, the same gospels disassociate Mary from all sin in 
order to show her to be as much as possible, "in the image 
and likeness of God." Mary was of the house of David, but 
Christ's relationship to that line is not given through Mary, 
but through Joseph, His foster father. And it had to be that 
the Mother of God was sinless in order that we might more 
easily believe that she had flung before the face of the world 
woman's greatest challenge to sin - the vow of virginity -
and kept it and made it bear divine fruit. 

We do not believe that Jesus is God because He was born 
of a Virgin Mother, as the Apostles and Evangelists did not 
believe it for that reason alone. We believe in the Divinity of 
Christ because of the evidence of the Resurrection, the marvel 
of the Gospel portrait, the growth of the Church, the miracles 
and prophecies of Christ, the consonance of His doctrine with 
the aspirations of the human heart. The Virgin Birth is rather 
related to the manhood of Christ, and His separateness from 
the sin that affected all men who are born of the union of 
man and woman. Far from treating the Virgin Birth as the 
[66] dazzling mark of Divinity, the Te Deum regards it as Our 
Lord's sublime condescension to the lowly conditions of 

When thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man: 
Thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb. 

The Virgin Birth is the safeguard of the sinlessness of the 
human nature which Our Blessed Lord assumed. The only 
salvation that is given to men on this earth is in the Name 
of Him Who as God Himself entered the ranks of sinful men. 
That no one should ever deny He was a man. He was born 
like the rest of men from the womb of a Woman - a fact that 
so scandalized Marcion that he said: "A babe wrapped in 
swaddling clothes is not the kind of a God that I will adore." 

In the Incarnation, God the Son initiates the process of 
the re-creation of His own earlier and disordered creation by 
the method of clothing Himself with those very elements 
within it which had fallen into disarray. For the first time 
since the Fall of Man, a completely perfected unit of hu- 
manity is created in the world. This humanity is united sub- 
stantially to the very Person of the Son of God. 

What do all denials of the Virgin Birth testify? Generally, 
to the subtle attempt to pull down the new order of humanity 
and the race of the second Adam into the unredeemed world 
of the old Adam. If a human father supplied the human na- 
ture of Christ, then Christ is not the new Adam. The Virgin 
Birth keeps the Divine initiative of Redemption to God Him- 
self. If the initiation of the new order is given to man, then 
it is taken from God. Without the Virgin Birth Our Lord 
would be entangled in a sinful humanity. With it He is In- 
carnate in humanity without its sin. By getting rid of the 
[67] Virgin Birth one seeks to get rid of the Divine Initiative 
within the race of the new Adam. The early heretics doubted 
the humanity of Our Lord, and so they denied that He had 
a human mother. Modern agnostics doubt the true Divinity, 
so they add a human father to His parentage. 

There is never any danger that men will think too much 
of Mary; the danger is that they will think too little of Christ. 
Coldness toward Mary is a consequence of indifference to 
Christ. Any objections to calling her the "Mother of God" is 
fundamentally an objection to the Deity of Christ. The conse- 
crated phrase "Theotokos" "Mother of God," has ever since 
432 been the touchstone of the Christian faith. It was not that 
the Church then had the intention of expanding Mariology; 
it was rather that it was concerned with Christological ortho- 
doxy. As John of Damascus said: "This name contains the 
whole mystery of the Incarnation." Once Christ is diminished, 
humanized, naturalized, there is no longer any use for the 
term "Mother of God." It implies a twofold generation of the 
Divine Word: one eternal in the bosom of the Father; the 
other temporal in the womb of Mary. Mary therefore did not 
bear a "mere man," but the "true God." No new person came 
into the world when Mary opened the portals of the flesh, but 
the Eternal Son of God was made man. All that came into 
being was a new nature, or a human nature to a Person Who 
existed from all eternity. It was the Word, the Second Person 
of the Blessed Trinity Who became flesh and dwelt amongst 
us. Theanthropos, or God-man, and Theotokos, or Mother of 
God, go together and fall together. 

It will be discovered that so-called Christians who think 
they believe in the Divinity of Christ, but do not believe in 
Mary as the Mother of God, fall generally into four ancient 
[68] heresies. They are Adoptionists, who believe that Christ was 
a mere man, but after birth was adopted by God as His Son. 
Or they are Nestorians, who held that Mary gave birth to a 
man who had only a close union with Divinity. Or they are 
Eutychians, who denied the human nature of Christ and 
hence made Mary merely an instrument in a theophany. Or 
they are Docetists, holding that Christ's nature was only a 
phantom or an appearance. Those who are offended at rever- 
ence paid Mary, if they will analyze their thoughts, will dis- 
cover that they are holding a Docetist or some similar ancient 
error. Even if they profess the Divinity of Christ in His earthly 
existence, such people shrink from affirming that His Human 
Nature is glorified with Him at the right hand of the Father 
where He makes intercession for us. As some no longer think 
of Christ as God, so some no longer think of Christ as glorified 
Man. If He is no longer Man, then Mary is no longer His 
Mother. But if He is still Man, the relation of Mary to Him 
extends beyond Bethlehem and Calvary even to His Mystical 
Body the Church. No one, therefore, who thinks logically 
about Christ can understand such a question as: "Why do you 
speak so often of His Mother?" 

The Virgin Birth, indeed, was a new type of generation. 
As our mind begets a thought without in any way destroying 
the mind, so Mary begot the Word within herself without in 
any way affecting her Virginity. There are various ways of 
generating: but the three principal ways are carnal, intellec- 
tual, and Divine. The carnal is sexual, whether it be in animals 
or in humans. Second is the generation of a thought within 
the mind. I take the idea of "fortitude." That thought, or 
word (for it is a word even before I pronounce it), does not 
exist in the outside world. It has neither weight, nor color, 
[69] nor longitude. Whence came it, then? It was begotten by 
the chaste generation of the mind. This intellectual generation 
is really a feeble image of the spiritual order of the Eternal 
Generation of the Son by the Father. "In the beginning was 
the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was 
God." God thinks a thought or a Word. But God does not 
think many thoughts or words. He thinks only one Word 
which reaches to the abyss of all that is known or can be 
known. That Word is the perfect image of Himself as the 
Thinker. Because it has been eternally generated, God the 
Thinker is called the Father, as the principle of generation, 
and the Word is called the Son as the term of generation. 

God willed that there be another kind of generation which 
would be neither wholly intellectual nor wholly carnal, but 
which in the order of flesh would reflect His eternal genera- 
tion in time. God willed to take on a human nature like our 
own through a Virgin, while conserving the Virginity of His 
Mother, and showing precisely that He is the Word of God. 
As our mind does not alter or destroy itself in the begetting 
of a thought, so neither does the Virginal Body of Our Blessed 
Mother go through any alteration in begetting Him, as the 
Son of God made man. The Word of God willed that His 
generation in the order of the flesh and in time be elevated 
with as close a resemblance as possible to His Heavenly gen- 

Christ is a Mediator between God and humanity; Mary is 
the Mediatrix between Christ and us. Our Lord is a Mediator 
between God and man. A Mediator is like a bridge which 
unites two opposite banks of a river, except that here the 
bridge is between Heaven and earth. As you cannot touch the 
ceiling without a stepladder acting as a mediator, so sinful 
[70] man could not in justice reach God, except by One Who 
mediated, and was both God and Man. As Man, He could act 
in our name, take on our sins; as one of us, He redeems us 
on the Cross and gives us new life in His Resurrection. But 
as God, His Words, miracles, and death have an infinite value, 
and therefore He restores more than we lost. God became 
man without ceasing to be either God or man, and therefore 
is our Mediator, Our Savior, Our Divine Lord. 

As we study His Divine Life, seeing Him as the first refugee 
persecuted by a cruel government, working as a carpenter, 
teaching and redeeming, we know that it all began when He 
took on our human nature and became man. If He had never 
taken on our human flesh, we would never have heard His 
Sermon on the Mount, nor have seen Him forgive those who 
dug His Hands and Feet with nails on the Cross. But the 
Woman gave our Lord His human nature. He asked her to 
give Him a human life to give Him hands with which to 
bless children, feet with which to go in search of stray sheep, 
eyes with which to weep over dead friends, and a body with 
which to suffer that He might give us a rebirth in freedom 
and love. 

It was through her that He became the bridge between the 
Divine and the human. If we take her away, then either God 
does not become man, or He that is born of her is a man and 
not God. Without her we would no longer have Our Lord! If 
we have a box in which we keep our money, we know that one 
thing we must always give attention to is the key; we never 
think that the key is the money, but we know that without 
the key we cannot get our money. Our Blessed Mother is like 
the key. Without her we can never get to Our Lord, because 
He came through her. She is not to be compared to Our Lord, 
[71] for she is a creature and He is a Creator. But if we lose her, 
we cannot get to Him. That is why we pay so much attention 
to her; without her we could never understand how that 
bridge was built between Heaven and earth. 

It may be objected: "Our Lord is enough for me. I have 
no need of her." But He needed her, whether we do or not. 
And, what is more important, Our Blessed Lord gave us His 
Mother as our Mother. On that Friday men call Good, when 
He was unfurled upon the Cross as the banner of salvation, 
He looked down to the two most precious creatures He had 
on earth: His Mother and His beloved disciple, John. The 
night before, at the Last Supper, He had made His last Will 
and Testament giving us that which on dying no man was 
ever able to give, namely, Himself in the Holy Eucharist. 
Thus He would be with us, as He said: "All days unto the 
consummation of the world." Now in the darkening shadows 
of Calvary, He adds a codicil to His Will. There beneath the 
Cross, not prostrate as the Gospel notes, "stood" His Mother. 
As a Son, He thought of His Mother; as a Saviour, He thought 
of us. So He gave to us His Mother: "Behold thy mother." 

At last we see illumined the Gospel's description of His 
Birth, namely, Mary "brought forth her first born and laid 
him in a manger." Her first born. St. Paul calls Him the "first 
born of all creatures." Does that mean that she was to have 
other children? Most certainly! But not according to the flesh, 
for Jesus was Her only Son. But she was to have other children 
by the spirit. Of these John is the first, born at the foot of the 
Cross, maybe Peter is the second, James, the third, and all of 
us the millionth and millionth of children. She gave birth in 
joy to Christ Who redeemed us, then she gave birth in sorrow 
to us, whom Christ redeemed! Not by a mere figure of speech, 
[72] not by a metaphor, but in virtue of Baptism did we become 
children of Mary, and brothers of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. 

Just as we do not shrink from the thought of God giving us 
His Father, so that we can pray: "Our Father," so neither do 
we rebel when He gives us His Mother, so that we can pray: 
"Our Mother." Thus the Fall of Man is undone through an- 
other Tree, the Cross; Adam through another Adam, Christ; 
and Eve through the new Eve, Mary. 

Born of the Virgin Mary: this is a true statement not only 
of Christ, but of every Christian, although in a lesser way. 
Every man is born of woman in the flesh as a member of the 
race of Adam. He is also born of the Woman in the Spirit if 
he is of the redeemed race of Christ. As she formed Jesus in 
her body, so she forms Jesus in our souls. In this one Woman 
are Virginity and Motherhood united, as if God willed to 
show us that both are necessary for the world. Things sep- 
arated in other creatures are united in her. The Mother is the 
protector of the Virgin, and the Virgin is also the inspiration 
of motherhood. 

One cannot go to a statue of a mother holding a babe, 
hack away the mother, and expect to have the babe. Touch 
her and you spoil Him. All other world religions are lost in 
myth and legend except Christianity. Christ is cut off from 
all the gods of paganism because He is tied to woman and to 
history. "Born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius 
Pilate." Coventry Patmore rightly calls Mary: "Our only Sav- 
iour from an abstract Christ." It is easier to understand the 
meek and humble heart of Christ by looking at His Mother. 
She holds all the great Truths of Christianity together, as a 
piece of wood holds a kite. Children wrap the string of a kite 
around a stick, and release the string as the kite climbs to 
[73] the heavens. Mary is like that piece of wood. Around her we 
wrap all the precious strings of the great Truths of our holy 
Faith - for example, the Incarnation, the Eucharist, the 
Church. No matter how far we get above the earth, as the kite 
may, we always have need of Mary to hold the doctrines of 
the Creed together. If we threw away the stick, we would no 
longer have the kite; if we threw away Mary, we would never 
have Our Lord. He would be lost in the Heavens, like our run- 
away kite, and that would be terrible, indeed, for us on 

Mary does not prevent our honoring Our Lord. Nothing is 
more cruel than to say that she takes souls away from Christ. 
That could mean that Our Lord chose a mother who is selfish, 
He Who is Love Itself. If she kept us from her Son, we would 
disown her! But is not she, who is the Mother of Jesus, good 
enough for us sinners? We would never have had Our Divine 
Lord if He had not chosen her. 

We pray to the Heavenly Father, "Give us this day our 
daily bread." Though we ask God for our daily bread, we do 
not hate the farmer nor the baker who help prepare it. Neither 
does the mother who gives the bread to her child dispense 
with the Heavenly Provider. If the only charge Our Lord has 
against us on Judgment day is that we loved His Mother 
then we shall be very happy! 

As our love does not start with Mary, so neither does it stop 
with Mary. Mary is a window through which our humanity 
first catches a glimpse of Divinity on earth. Or perhaps she 
is more like a magnifying glass, that intensifies our love of 
her Son, and makes our prayers more bright and burning. 

God, Who made the sun, also made the moon. The moon 
does not take away from the brilliance of the sun. The moon 
[74] would be only a burnt-out cinder floating in the immensity 
of space, were it not for the sun. All its light is reflected from 
the sun. The Blessed Mother reflects her Divine Son; without 
Him, she is nothing. With Him, she is the Mother of Men. On 
dark nights we are grateful for the moon; when we see it 
shining, we know there must be a sun. So in this dark night of 
the world when men turn their backs on Him Who is the Light 
of the World, we look to Mary to guide their feet while we 
await the sunrise. 

The Virgin Mother 

[75] A woman can be a virgin in one of three ways: first, because 
she never had a chance to marry. This could be involuntary 
virginity (if she rebelled against her maidenhood), or it 
could be voluntary and meritorious (if she accepted it as 
God's Holy Will). No one is saved because of virginity alone - 
of the ten virgins in the Gospel, five were foolish women. 
There are virgins in hell, but there is no one in hell who is 
humble. A woman can be a virgin a second way because she 
decided not to marry. This can be for social or economic rea- 
sons and, therefore, may have no religious value, but it can 
also be meritorious, if it is done for a religious motive - for 
example, the better to serve a sick member of a family, or to 
dedicate oneself to neighbor for the love of God. Thirdly, a 
woman can be a virgin because she made a vow or a promise 
to God to keep herself pure for His sake although she has a 
hundred chances to marry. 

Mary was a virgin in the third way. She fell in love at a 
very early age, and it was with God one of those beautiful 
loves where the first love is the last love, and the last love is 
Eternal Love. She must have been very wise, as well as good 
[76] as a young girl of fifteen or sixteen, to have made such a 
choice. This alone made her very different from other women, 
who were anxious to bear children. When a married woman 
did not have children in that time, it was considered some- 
times, but wrongly, that God was angry with her. 

When Our Lady took the vow of virginity, she made her- 
self "queer" to some people, for there will always be some 
material-minded people who cannot understand why some 
souls really love God. The Blessed Mother had a better chance 
than most women to become the Mother of God; for the 
Bible said that Our Lord would be born of the House of 
David, the great king who lived a thousand years before. And 
Mary belonged to that royal family. Without doubt Mary 
knew the prophecy of Isaias which some had forgotten, 
namely, that the Messias would be born of a Virgin. But it 
is more likely, from what she said later, that she considered 
herself too lowly for such dignity and took the vow in the 
hope that, through her sacrifice and prayer, the coming of the 
Messias might be hastened. 

How do we know that Mary took a vow? We know it from 
her answer to the angel Gabriel. Out from the great white 
throne of light came the angel to this beautiful girl kneeling 
in prayer. This visit of the Angel to Mary is called the An- 
nunciation because it announced the first really good news 
the earth had heard in centuries. Yesterday's news was about 
the fall of a man through a woman; today's news is about the 
regeneration of man through a woman. 

An Angel salutes a woman! This would be a perversion of 
Heaven's order, worse than men's worshipping animals, unless 
Mary had been destined by God to be even greater than the 
[77] angels - yes, their very Queen! And so the Angel, who was 
accustomed to be honored by men, now honors the Woman. 

This Ambassador of God gives no order, but salutes her: 
"Hail, full of grace." "Hail" is our English translation for 
the Greek Chaire and probably is the equivalent of the old 
Aramaic formula Shalom, which meant "Rejoice" or "Peace 
be to you." "Full of grace" the rare word in the Greek of the 
Gospel, signifies either "most gracious" or "full of virtue." It 
was almost like a proper noun in which God's Emissary affirms 
that she is the object of His Divine Pleasure. 

It was less the flashing visit of the Heavenly Messenger 
which troubled the humble maid, than the startling greeting 
and the unexpected tone of Divine praise. A short time later 
when she would visit her cousin, Elizabeth, she would be 
asked: "How is it that the Mother of my God should come 
to me?" But now it is Mary's turn to ask: "Why should the 
Angel of my God come to me?" The angel hastens to assure 
her of the reason of the visit. She is to fulfill within herself 
that which the prophet Isaias had announced seven cen- 
turies before: "A Virgin shall conceive, and bring forth a Son, 
and His Name shall be called 'Emmanuel' (God with us)." 
(Isaiah 7:14) Making clear allusion to that prophecy, the 
angel says: "Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt 
bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name, Jesus. He 
shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High, 
and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David 
his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever." 
(Luke 1:30-33) 

God was choosing her, not just because she was a Virgin, 
but because of her humility. Later Mary herself declared this 
[78] as the reason: "He looked upon the lowliness of his hand- 
maid." (Luke 1:48) So Mary was troubled. Nothing troubles 
a humble soul like praise, and here the praise comes from an 
angel of God. 

This great honor created a problem for Mary who had 
vowed to give her body as well as her soul to God. Therefore 
she could never be a mother. As she put it: "I know not man. 
I have willed not to know man." 

The Bible never speaks of marriage in terms of sex, but as 
"knowledge," for example, "Joseph knew not Mary" (Matt. 
1:19) "Adam knew Eve and she conceived." (Gen. 4:1) 
The reason it does this is in order to show how close a hus- 
band and wife should be: they are intended by God to be as 
close as your mind and that thing which you know. For 
example, you know that two plus two equals four, and you 
cannot think of anything coming between your mind and 
that. Your right arm is not united to your body so closely as 
anything which you know is united to your mind. 

So Mary says: "How shall this be, seeing I know not man?" 
Mary did not say: "I will never marry, therefore, I cannot 
become the Mother of Jesus." That would have been dis- 
obedient to the angel who asked her to become the Mother 
of Jesus. Neither did she say: "I do not want a husband, but 
let the Will of God be fulfilled," for that would have been 
untrue to herself and her vow. Mary merely wanted to be 
enlightened concerning her duty. The problem was not her 
virginity. She was familiar enough with the prophecy of 
Isaias to know that God would be born of a virgin. Mary's 
only concern was, that since up to this point in history mother- 
hood and virginity had been irreconcilable, how will God 
arrange it? Her objection to the Virgin Birth was on the basis 
[79] of science. The solution certainly cannot be natural; therefore 
it must be supernatural. God can do it, but how? Long before 
modern biology put a query to the Virgin Birth, Mary asked 
the scientific "How?" The angel answers that, in her case, 
birth will come without human love, but not without Divine 
Love, for the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy 
Spirit, Who is the Love of God, will descend into her, and 
He that will be born of her will be "the Son of God." 

Mary saw at once that this allowed her to keep her vow. 
All she wanted, anyway, was to love God. At this moment, 
when the Spirit of Love ravished her soul, so that she con- 
ceived the Christ within, there must have come to her the 
fulfillment of those ecstatic ravishments that creatures seek 
in the flesh but which they never quite attain. The flesh in its 
peaks of love when it becomes united to other flesh falls back 
upon itself with satiety, but here in this union of human love 
with Divine Love there is no throwback to self, but only the 
sheer delight of the ecstasy of the spirit. In flesh-love the 
ecstasy is first in the body and then indirectly in the soul 
In this Spirit-love, it was Mary's soul that was first ravished 
and, then, not by human love but by God. The love of God 
would so inflame her heart, her body, her soul that when Jesus 
was born the world could truly say of Him: "This is a Child 
of Love." 

Being told how Divine Love will supplant human love, 
and how she can be a Mother while remaining a Virgin in the 
great mystery of generation, Mary now gives her consent: "Be 
it done unto me according to Thy Word," that is, as God in 
His Wisdom wills it, so do I. And at that moment the Word 
was conceived in her: "The Word became Flesh and dwelt 
amongst us." Before the Fall, it was woman who came from 
[80] man in the ecstasy of sleep. Now it is man who comes 
from a woman in the ecstasy of the Spirit. 

One of the most beautiful lessons in the world emerges 
from the Annunciation, namely, the vocation of woman to 
supreme religious values. Mary is here recapturing woman's 
vocation from the beginning, namely, to be to humanity the 
bearer of the Divine. Every mother is this when she gives 
birth to a child, for the soul of every child is infused by God. 
She thus becomes a coworker with Divinity; she bears what 
God alone can give. As the priest in the order of Redemption, 
at the moment of Consecration, brings the crucified Saviour 
to the altar, so the mother in the order of creation brings the 
spirit which issues from the Hand of God to the cradle of 
earth. With such thoughts in mind, Leon Bloy once said: "The 
more a woman is holy, the more she becomes a woman." 

Why? It is not that women are naturally more religious 
than men. This statement is merely a rationalization made by 
men who have fallen from their ideals. Man and woman each 
have a specific mission under God to complement one an- 
other. Each, too, has its symbol in the lower order. Man may 
be likened to the animal in his acquisitiveness, mobility, and 
initiative. Woman may be likened to the flower, which is 
fixed between Heaven and earth; she is like the earth in her 
bearing of life; she is like the Heaven in her aspirations to 
blossom upward to the Divine. The mark of man is initiative; 
but the mark of woman is cooperation. Man talks about free- 
dom; woman about sympathy, love, sacrifice. Man cooperates 
with nature; woman cooperates with God. Man was called 
to till the earth, to "rule over the earth"; woman to be the 
bearer of a life that comes from God. The hidden wish of 
every woman in history, the secret desire of every feminine 
[81] heart, is fulfilled in that instant when Mary says: "Fiat" 
"Be it done unto me according to Thy Word." 

Here is cooperation at its best. Here is the essence of 
womanhood - acceptance, resignation, submission: "Be it 
done unto me." Whether it be the unmarried daughter who 
cares for the mother with her Fiat of surrender to service, or 
the wife who accepts the husband in the unity of the flesh, or 
the saint who accepts little crosses proffered by her Saviour, 
or this Unique Woman whose soul submits to the Divine 
Mystery of mothering God made man - there is present in 
varying degrees the beautiful picture of Woman in her sub- 
limest vocation making the Total Gift, accepting a Divine 
assignment, being submissive for heaven's holy purposes. 
Mary calls herself ancilla Domini, the handmaid of the Lord. 
Not to be this for any woman lowers her dignity. Woman's 
unhappiest moments are when she is unable to give; her most 
hellish moments are when she refuses to give. Tragedy stalks 
when woman is forced by economic or social circumstances 
to busy herself in those materialities which hamper or dam 
up the outpouring of that specific quality of surrender to 
Divine Purpose which makes her a woman. Denied an outlet 
for the bursting need of giving, she feels a deeper sense of 
emptiness than a man, precisely because of the greater depths 
of her fountain of love. 

For a woman to be the Collaborator with the Divine -
whether it be helping the missions, visiting the sick after 
business hours, freely offering services to hospitals or moth- 
ering her children - is to enjoy that equilibrium of spirit 
which is the essence of sanity. Liturgy speaks of woman as 
fulfilling mysterium caritatis: the mystery of love. And love 
does not mean to have, to own, to possess, It means to be had, 
[82] to be owned, to be possessed. It is the giving of self for 
another. A woman may love God mediately through creatures, 
or she may love God immediately, as Mary did, but to be 
happy she must bring the Divine to the human. The explosive 
revolt of woman against her alleged inequalities with man is 
at bottom a protest against the restraints of a bourgeois civ- 
ilization without faith, one which has chained her God-given 

What every woman wants in the "mystery of love" is not the 
bestial burst, but the soul. Man is driven by love of pleasure; 
woman by the pleasure of love, by its meaning and the enrich- 
ment of soul it grants. In this beautiful moment of the An- 
nunciation, Woman reaches her sublimest fulfillment for 
God's sake. As the earth submits to the exigency of the seed 
for the sake of the harvest, as the nurse submits to the exigen- 
cies of the wounded for the sake of the healing, as the wife 
submits to the exigencies of the flesh for the sake of the child, 
so Mary submits to the exigencies of the Divine Will for the 
sake of the Redemption of the World. 

Closely allied with this submission is sacrifice. For sub- 
mission is not passivity, but action - the action of self- 
forgetfulness. Woman is capable of greater sacrifices than 
man, partly because her love is less intermittent, and also 
because she is unhappy without total and complete dedica- 
tion. Woman is made for the sacred. She is heaven's instru- 
ment on earth. Mary is the prototype, the pattern-Woman 
who fulfills in herself the deepest aspirations of the heart of 
every daughter of Eve. 

Virginity and maternity are not so irreconcilable as it would 
seem. Every virgin yearns to become a mother, either physi- 
[83] cally or spiritually, for unless she creates, mothers, nurses, 
and fosters life, her heart is as uneasy and awkward as a giant 
ship in shallow waters. She has the vocation of generating 
life, either in the flesh or in the spirit through conversion. 
There is nothing in professional life which necessarily hardens 
a woman. If such a woman does become hardened, it is be- 
cause she is denied those specifically creative God-like func- 
tions without which she cannot be happy. 

On the other hand, every wife and mother strives for spirit- 
ual virginity in that she would like to take back what she has 
given, that she might offer it all over again, only this time 
more deeply, more piously, more divinely. There is some- 
thing incomplete about virginity, something ungiven, unsur- 
rendered, kept back. There is something lost in all mother- 
hood: something given, something taken and something 

But in the Woman there was realized physically and spirit- 
ually what every woman desires physically. In Mary, there 
was nothing unsurrendered, nothing lost; there was a harvest 
without the loss of the bud; an autumn in an eternal spring; 
a submission without a spoliation. Virgin and Mother! The 
only melody that fell from the violin of God's creation with- 
out the breaking of a string! 

Woman has a mission to give life. The Life which is to be 
born of Mary comes without the spark of love of a human 
spouse, but with the Flame of Love of the Holy Spirit. There 
can be no birth without love; but the meaning of the Virgin 
Birth is Divine Love acting without benefit of the flesh. As a 
result, He Whom the Heavens could not contain she now 
contains within herself. This was the beginning of the Propa- 
[84] gation of the Faith in Christ Jesus Our Lord, for in Her 
Virgin body is celebrated, as in a new Eden, the nuptials of 
God and man. 

Because in this one Woman, Virginity and Motherhood are 
united, it must be that God willed to show how both are nec- 
essary for the world. What are separated in other creatures 
are united in her. The Mother is the protectress of the Virgin, 
and the Virgin is the inspiration of motherhood. Without 
mothers, there would be no virgins in the next generation; 
without the virgins, mothers would forget the sublime ideal 
that lies beyond the flesh. They complement one another, like 
the sun and the rain. Without the sun there would be no 
clouds, and without the clouds there would be no rain. The 
clouds, like mothers, surrender something in fecundating the 
earth; but the sun, like a virgin, recoups and recovers that loss 
by drawing the gentle drops back again into heaven. How 
beautiful to think that He Who is generated without a mother 
in Heaven is now born without a father on earth! Can we 
imagine a little bird building the very nest in which it is to 
be hatched? It is clearly impossible, because the bird would 
have to exist before it could build its own nest. But that is 
what happened, in a sense, with God, when he chose Mary as 
His Mother: He thought of Her from all eternity - He made 
His Mother as the very nest from which He would be born. 

We have often heard friends and relatives say of a child: 
"You look like your father," or, "You look like your mother." 
Or, "You get your blue eyes from your mother's side," or "You 
get your smartness from your father's side." Well, Our Lord 
had no earthly father's side. Where did Our Lord get His 
beatutiful face, His strong Body, His clean Blood, His sensi- 
tive mouth, His delicate fingers? He got them from His moth- 
[85] er's side. Where did He get His Divinity, His Divine Mind 
that knows all things even our most secret thoughts, and His 
Divine Power over life and death? He got these from His 
Heavenly Father's side. It is a terrible thing for men not to 
know their father, but it is even more terrible not to know 
their Heavenly Mother. And the greatest compliment that 
can be paid to a true Christian is: "You took after your Fa- 
ther's side in grace, but in your humanity, you took after your 
Mother's side." 

The World's Happiest Marriage 

[86] It is very difficult for the unspiritual-minded to think of a 
golden mean between marriage and being alone. They think 
that a person is either tied up with someone in wedded life, 
or else that he lives in solitude. The two are not exclusive, for 
there is such a thing as a combination of marriage and soli- 
tude, and that is absolute virginity with wedded life, in which 
there is a union of the soul of one with another and yet an 
absolute separateness of body. Only the joys of the spirit are 
shared; never the pleasures of the flesh. 

Today the vow of virginity is taken only outside of human 
espousals or marriage, but among some Jews and among some 
great Christian saints, the vow of virginity was sometimes 
taken along with espousals. Marriage then became the frame 
into which the picture of virginity was placed. Marriage was 
like a sea on which the bark of carnal union never sailed, but 
one from which one fished the sustenance for life. 

There are some marriages where there is no unity of the 
flesh, because the flesh has already been sated and dulled. 
Some partners abandon passion only because passion has 
abandoned them. But there are also marriages wherein, after 
a unity of the flesh, couples have mutually pledged to God 
[87] a sacrifice of the thrill of unity in the flesh for the sake of 
the greater ecstasies of the spirit. Beyond both of these, there 
is a true marriage where the exercise of the right to another's 
body is annulled and even the desire of it; such is the mar- 
riage of two persons with the vow of virginity. It is one thing 
to give up the pleasures of married life because one is jaded 
with them, and quite another to give up the pleasures before 
they are ever experienced. Here the marriage is of the heart 
and not of the flesh; it is a marriage such as the stars have, 
whose light unites in the atmosphere although the stars 
themselves do not; a marriage like the flowers in the garden 
in springtime, who give forth perfume, although they them- 
selves do not touch; a marriage like an orchestration, where 
a great melody is produced but where one instrument is with- 
out contact with the other. Such a marriage was actually the 
type of marriage which took place between the Blessed 
Mother and St Joseph, one in which the right to another was 
surrendered for a higher purpose. The marriage bond does 
not necessarily imply carnal union. As St. Augustine says: 
"The basis of married love is the attachment of hearts." 

First, then, we will inquire why there should have been a 
marriage at all, since both Mary and Joseph had taken the 
vow of virginity, and secondly, we will seek to understand 
the character of Joseph himself. The first reason for the 
espousal was that it kept the Blessed Mother covered with 
honor until the time came for her to reveal the Virgin Birth. 
We do not know exactly when she revealed the fact, but it is 
likely that it was done shortly after the Resurrection. There 
was no point in talking about the Virgin Birth until Our Lord 
had given the final proof of His Divinity. In any case, there 
were only a few who really knew it: the mother herself, St. 
[88] Joseph, Elizabeth, her cousin, and, of course, Our Blessed 
Lord. So far as public appearances went, it was thought that 
Our Blessed Lord was the son of Joseph. Thus the reputation 
of the Blessed Mother was conserved; if Mary had become a 
Mother without a spouse, it would have exposed the mystery 
of Christ's birth to ridicule, and would have become a scan- 
dal to the weak. 

A second reason for the marriage was that Joseph could 
bear witness to the purity of Mary. This involved, both for 
Mary and for Joseph, the greatest sorrow this side of Calvary. 
Every privilege of grace has to be paid for, and so Mary and 
Joseph had to pay for theirs. Mary did not tell Joseph that 
she was conceived by the Spirit of Love, because the Angel 
did not bid her do so. The Blessed Mother once revealed to a 
Saint: "Outside of Golgotha, I never suffered such intense 
agony as in those days when, despite myself, I brought worry 
to Joseph, who was so just." The sorrow of Joseph came from 
the inexplicable. On the one hand, he knew that Mary had 
taken the vow of virginity, as he had done. It seemed impos- 
sible to believe her guilty, because of her goodness. But, on 
the other hand, because of her condition, how could he be- 
lieve otherwise? Joseph suffered then what the mystics have 
called "the dark night of the soul." Mary had to pay for her 
honor, particularly at the end of her life, but Joseph had to 
pay for his at the beginning. Because Joseph had kept his 
vow, he was naturally surprised when he heard that Mary 
was with child. The surprise that Joseph felt was like that 
of Mary at the Annunciation: "How shall this be, seeing I 
know not man?" Mary wanted then to know how she could 
be both a virgin and a mother; Joseph wanted to know 
how he could be a virgin and a father. It took an Angel to 
[89] reassure them both that God had found a way. No human 
knowledge of science can explain such a thing. Only those 
who listen to angels' voices can pierce that mystery. As Joseph 
had a mind to put Mary away secretly, the Gospel lifts the 
veil of the mystery to him: "But hardly had the thought come 
to his mind, when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a 
dream, and said, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to 
take thy wife Mary to thyself, for it is by the power of the 
Holy Ghost that she has conceived this child; and she will 
bear a son, whom thou shalt call Jesus, for he is to save his 
people from their sins'." (Matt 1:20, 21) 

Joseph's worries were overcome by a revelation of the 
dignity of Christ's Virgin Birth and of the nature of His mis- 
sion namely, to save us from our sins. The very words of 
the angel: "Do not be afraid to take thy wife Mary to thy- 
self" seem to support the view that Joseph already believed 
that a miracle had taken place in Mary and that that was why 
he "feared" to bring her into his own house. It is unlikely that 
any man told of a Virgin Birth would ever have credited it 
if there had not already been in his heart a belief in the 
Messias, Christ, Who was to come. Joseph knew that the Mes- 
sias would be born of the family of David, and he himself was 
of that family. He also knew of the prophecies concerning the 
Child, even the one of Isaias that He would be born of a 
Virgin. If Joseph had not already been described as a just 
man, the message of the angel and the honor that was to 
come to Mary would have been enough to have inspired 
great purity in him. For if a modern father were told that 
one day his son would be President of the United States, it 
would inspire a changed attitude toward his wife, the mother 
of the child. In like manner, all anxiety and anguish now leave 
[90] Joseph, as his soul is filled with reverence and awe for the 
love of Mary's secret. 

That brings us to the second interesting question concern- 
ing Joseph. Was he old or young? Most of the statues and 
pictures which we see of Joseph today represent him as an 
old man with a gray beard, one who took Mary and her vow 
under his protection with somewhat the same detachment as 
a doctor would pick up a baby girl in a nursery. We have, of 
course, no historical evidence whatever concerning the age 
of Joseph. Some apocryphal accounts picture him as an old 
man; Fathers of the Church, after the fourth century, fol- 
lowed this legend rather rigidly. The painter, Guido Reni, did 
so when he pictured Joseph as an old man with white hair. 

But when one searches for the reasons why Christian art 
should have pictured Joseph as aged, we discover that it was 
in order better to safeguard the virginity of Mary. Somehow, 
the assumption had crept in that senility was a better pro- 
tector of virginity than adolescence. Art thus, unconsciously, 
made Joseph a spouse, chaste and pure by age, rather than 
by virtue. But this is like assuming that the best way to show 
that a man would never steal is to picture him without hands; 
it also forgets that old men can have unlawful desires, as well 
as young men. It was the old men in the garden who tempted 
Susanna. But more than that, to make Joseph out as old por- 
trays for us a man who had little vital energy left, rather than 
one who, having it, kept it in chains for God's sake and for 
His holy purposes. To make Joseph appear pure only because 
his flesh had aged is like glorifying a mountain stream that 
has dried. The Church will not ordain a man to his priesthood 
who has not his vital powers. She wants men who have some- 
thing to tame, rather than those who are tame because they 
[91] have no energy to be wild. It should be no different with 
God. Furthermore, it is reasonable to believe that Our Lord 
would prefer, for a foster father, someone who had made a 
sacrifice rather than someone who was forced to it. There is 
the added historical fact that the Jews frowned on a dispro- 
portionate marriage between what Shakespeare calls "crabbed 
age and youth"; the Talmud admits a disproportionate mar- 
riage only for widows or widowers. Finally, it seems hardly 
possible that God would have attached a young mother, prob- 
ably about sixteen or seventeen years of age, to an old man. 
If He did not disdain to give His Mother to a young man, 
John, at the foot of the Cross, then why should He have given 
her an old man at the crib? A woman's love always determines 
the way a man loves: she is the silent educator of his virile 
powers. Since Mary is what might be called a "virginizer" of 
young men as well as women, and the greatest inspiration of 
Christian purity, should she not logically have begun by in- 
spiring and virginizing the first youth whom she had prob- 
ably ever met - Joseph, the Just? It was not by diminishing 
his power to love, but by elevating it, that she would have 
her first conquest, and in her own spouse, the man who was a 
man, and not a mere senile watchman! 

Joseph was probably a young man, strong, virile, athletic, 
handsome, chaste, and disciplined; the kind of man one sees 
sometimes shepherding sheep, or piloting a plane, or working 
at a carpenter's bench. Instead of being a man incapable of 
loving, he must have been on fire with love. Just as we would 
give very little credit to the Blessed Mother if she had taken 
her vow of virginity after having been an old maid for fifty 
years, so neither could we give much credit to a Joseph who 
became her spouse because he was advanced in years. Young 
[92] girls in those days, like Mary, took vows to love God uniquely, 
and so did young men, of whom Joseph was one so pre- 
eminent as to be called the "just." Instead, then, of being 
dried fruit to be served on the table of the King, he was rather 
a blossom filled with promise and power. He was not in the 
evening of life but in its morning, bubbling over with energy, 
strength, and controlled passion. 

Mary and Joseph brought to their espousals not only their 
vows of virginity, but also two hearts with greater torrents of 
love than had ever before coursed through human breasts. No 
husband and wife ever loved one another so much as Joseph 
and Mary. Their marriage was not like that of others, be- 
cause the right to the body was surrendered; in normal mar- 
riages, unity in the flesh is the symbol of its consummation, 
and the ecstasy which accompanies a consummation is only a 
foretaste of the joy that comes to the soul when it attains union 
with God through grace. If there is satiety and fed-up-ness in 
marriage, it is because it falls short of what it was meant to 
reveal, or because the inner Divine Mystery was not seen in 
the act. But in the case of Mary and Joseph, there was no need 
of the symbol of the unity of flesh, since they already pos- 
sessed the Divinity. Why pursue the shadow when they had 
the substance? Mary and Joseph needed no consummation 
in the flesh for, in the beautiful language of Leo XIII: "The 
consummation of their love was in Jesus." Why bother with 
the flickering candles of the flesh, when the Light of the World 
is their love? Truly He is Jesu, voluptas cordium. When He 
is the sweet voluptuousness of hearts, there is not even a 
thought of the flesh. As husband and wife standing over the 
cradle of their newborn life forget, for the moment, the need 
of one another, so Mary and Joseph, in their possession of God 
[93] in their family, hardly knew that they had bodies. Love 
usually makes husband and wife one; in the case of Mary 
and Joseph, it was not their combined loves but Jesus Who 
made them one. No deeper love ever beat under the roof of 
the world since the beginning, nor will it ever beat, even unto 
the end. They did not go to God through love of one another; 
rather, because they went first to God, they had a deep and 
pure love one for another. To those who ridicule such holi- 
ness, Chesterton wrote: 

That Christ from this creative purity 
Came forth your sterile appetites to scorn. 
Lo! in her house Life without Lust was born 
So in your house Lust without Life shall die. 

In a flesh-marriage, the body first leads the soul, and then, 
later, comes a more reposed state, when the soul leads the 
body. At this point, both partners go to God. But in a spirit- 
marriage, it is God Who possesses both body and soul from the 
beginning. Neither has a right to the other's body, for that 
belongs to the Creator through the vow. Mary and Joseph thus 
combined solitude and espousal through the spiritual magic 
of virginity along with togetherness. Joseph renounced pa- 
ternity of the flesh, and yet found it in the spirit, as the foster 
father of Our Lord; Mary renounced maternity, and yet found 
it in her virginity, as the closed garden through which no one 
should pass except the Light of the World Who would break 
nothing in His coming any more than light breaks the 
window by coming into the room. 

How much more beautiful Mary and Joseph become when 
we see in their lives what might be called the first Divine 
Romance! No human heart is moved by the love of the old 
[94] for the young; but who is not moved by the love of the young 
for the young, when their bond is the Ancient of Days, Who 
is God? In both Mary and Joseph, there was youth, beauty, 
and promise. God loves cascading cataracts and bellowing 
waterfalls, but He loves them better, not when they overflow 
and drown His flowers, but when they are harnessed and 
bridled to light a city and to slake the thirst of a child. In 
Joseph and Mary, we do not find one controlled waterfall and 
one dried-up lake, but rather two youths who, before they 
knew the beauty of the one and the handsome strength of 
the other, willed to surrender these things for Jesus. 

Leaning over the manger crib of the Infant Jesus, then, 
are not age and youth, but youth and youth, the consecration 
of beauty in a maid and the surrender of strong comeliness in 
a man. If the Ancient of Days turned back eternity and be- 
came young again; if the condition of entering Heaven is to 
be reborn and to become young again, then, to all young mar- 
ried couples: here is your model, your prototype, your Divine 
Imaginal. From these two spouses, who loved as no couple on 
earth has ever loved, learn that it takes not two to love, but 
three: you and you and Jesus. Do you not speak of "our love" 
as something distinct from the love of each one of you? That 
love, outside of both of you, and which is more than the addi- 
tion of your two loves, is the love of God. 

Married couples ought to say the Rosary together each 
night, for their common prayer is more than the separate 
prayers of each. When the child comes, they should say it be- 
fore the Crib, as Joseph and Mary prayed there. In this earthly 
Trinity of Child, Mother, and foster father, there were not 
two hearts with but a single thought, but one great Heart into 
which the other two poured themselves out as confluent 
[95] streams. As trustees of carnal wealth, husband and wife will 
see that the flames of love have been given to them not to 
scorch the flesh, but to solder life. And children will ask, If 
He Who is the Son of God made Himself subject to His par- 
ents in reparation for the sins of pride, then how shall they 
escape the sweet necessity of obeying their parents who stand 
in the place of God? Democracy put man on a pedestal; 
feminism put woman on a pedestal. But neither democracy 
nor feminism could live a generation out unless a Child was 
put onto a pedestal. This is the significance of the marrying of 
Joseph and Mary. 

Obedience and Love 

[96] On the eleventh day of February, 1895, on the forty-first 
anniversary of the revelation of Our Lady at Lourdes, M. 
Jaures spoke as follows in the French Chamber of Deputies: 
"The most priceless good conquered by man through all his 
sufferings and struggles, and despite all his prejudices, is the 
idea that there is no sacred truth; that all truth which does 
not come from us is a lie ... if God Himself ever appeared 
before men, the first duty of man would be to refuse obedi- 
ence and to consider Him as an equal with us, not as a Master 
to Whom we should submit." 

This affirmation of man as against God is not new, except 
in its verbiage. From the very beginning, man was a rebel 
against his Divine destiny; consider the steward, who pre- 
tends to be the master of the vineyard, and then kills the 
messengers of the Lord - the prodigal son who demands his 
share of the substance, and then squanders it. Man has acted 
thus in the past, and now the revolution is again in full swing. 
A modern writer, explaining why he became a Communist, 
answered that one must go back to the garden of Eden to 
understand the real reason. There Satan tempted man, prom- 
ising that "he would be like unto God." This desire of men 
[97] to deny his dependence on his Creator and to set himself 
up as an absolute is the basic cause of men's becoming Com- 
munists. They are, fundamentally, already in revolt against 
God, and Communism gives the social pattern for that rebel- 
lion. The copy or the carbon then tries to be the original 
but it could never strive to be the original unless it was already 
conscious that it was a carbon. Man is the shadow, who 
would be the substance; the pendulum, who would swing 
without being suspended from the clock; the painting, which 
would deny that an artist's hand ever touched it. The most 
daring of all sins is that of self-deification, and it is possible 
only because of a Divine Creation - for who would want to 
be God unless he had come from the hands of God? The 
human "I" was not made for the "I" alone, but for God's 
service. The man, therefore, who refuses to seek the perfec- 
tion of his personality, namely, God, must do one of two 
things: he must either inflate himself into an infinity, and 
identify himself in a fantastic swelling with the dimensions 
of God; or else, he must suffer a terrible emptiness and void 
within his ego, which is the beginning of despair. Thus there 
is pride at one end of the mystical self and hopelessness at the 
other. The will which breaks away from God always becomes 
an assertive will that will tread anything, ruthlessly, under- 
foot. All that a will that is divorced from God cares about 
is power. Nietzsche's will-to-power is synonymous with athe- 
ism - not the mental atheism of the sophomore, who knows 
a smattering of science and of comparative religion, but an 
atheism of the will, which sets itself up as God. Through all 
the ages, and until the consummation of time, there will be 
those who will shriek before the Pilates of this world: "We 
will not have this Man rule over us!" 

[98] Behind this rebellion or disobedience of God, there are 
two basic assumptions. The first is, that the intelligence in- 
vents or originates truth, and that it does not discover or find 
it. In the nineteenth century it was very common for material- 
ists to believe that they originated the laws of nature be- 
cause they discovered them. They forgot that the scientist 
is, actually, a proofreader of the book of Nature, and not its 
author. The second assumption is that subordination to an- 
other implies subjection. This implies a denial of all degrees 
and hierarchy in nature and in creation, and the reduction 
of mankind to an egalitarianism, in which each man is a 

This philosophy of pride assumes that independence must 
mean the want of any form of dependence. But independ- 
ence is conditioned upon dependence. Our Declaration of 
Independence affirms certain basic freedoms, such as the right 
to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness. But in a 
previous sentence it ascribes this independence to the fact 
that all of these are the endowments of a Creator. Because 
man is dependent on God, he is not dependent on a State. 
But once dependence on God is lost, then the State takes 
over the attributes of Divinity and, being material in its 
structure, crushes the last vestige of the human spirit. To 
correct this false deification of man, it is important once more 
to investigate the meaning of obedience. 

Obedience does not mean the execution of orders that are 
given by a drill sergeant. It springs, rather, from the love 
of an order, and love of Him who gave it. The merit of obedi- 
ence is less in the act than in the love; the submission, the 
devotion, and the service which obedience implies are not 
born of servitude, but are rather effects that spring from 
[99] and are unified by love. Obedience is servility only to 
those who have not understood the spontaneity of love. 

To comprehend obedience, one must study it between two 
great moments. The first moment was when a woman made 
an act of obedience to the Will of God: "Be it done unto me 
according to Thy Word." The other moment was when a 
woman asked man to be obedient to God: "Do whatever 
He tells you." Between these historical facts is 
the story told by Luke: "And after they had performed all 
things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into 
Galilee to their city Nazareth. And the Child grew and became 
strong, full of wisdom and the grace of God was in Him. . . . 
And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was 
subject to them, and His mother kept all these words in her 
heart. Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace with 
God and men" (Luke 2:39, 40, 51, 52) 

For the reparation of the pride of men, Our Blessed Lord 
humbled Himself in obedience to His parents: "And he was 
subject to them." It was God who was subject to man. God, 
Whom the principalities and powers obey, subjected Him- 
self not only to Mary, but to Joseph, too, because of Mary. 
Our Blessed Lord Himself said that He came "not to be min- 
istered unto, but to minister." Now He makes Himself the 
servant not only of His parents, but even of the community, 
for later on the townspeople will speak of Him as the Son of 
the carpenter. This humility, abstraction made from His 
Divinity, was exactly contrary to what one would expect of a 
man destined to become the reformer of the human race. 
And yet, what did this carpenter do during these thirty years 
of His obscurity? He made a coffin for the pagan world; He 
fashioned a yoke for the modern world; and He fashioned a 
[100] Cross upon which He would be adored. He gave the 
supreme lesson of that virtue which is the foundation of all 
Christianity humility, submission, and a hidden life as a 
preparation for duty. 

Our Lord spent three hours in redeeming, three years 
in teaching, and thirty years in obeying, in order that a rebel- 
lious, proud, and diabolically independent world might learn 
the value of obedience. Home life is the God-appointed 
training ground of human character, for from the home life 
of the child springs the maturity of manhood, either for good 
or for evil. The only recorded acts of Our Blessed Lord's 
childhood are acts of obedience to God, His Heavenly Fa- 
ther, and also to Mary and Joseph. He thus shows the 
special duty of childhood and of youth: to obey parents as 
the vice-regents of God. He, the great God Whom the Heavens 
and earth could not contain, submitted Himself to His par- 
ents. If He was sent on a message to a neighbor, it was the 
great Sender of the Apostles who delivered the message. If 
Joseph ever bade Him search for a tool that was lost, it was 
the Wisdom of God and the Shepherd in search of lost souls 
who was actually doing the seeking. If Joseph taught Him 
carpentry, He Who was taught was One Who had carpentered 
the universe, and Who would one day be put to death by 
the members of His own profession. If He made a yoke for 
the oxen of a neighbor, it was He Who would call Himself a 
yoke for men and yet a burden that would be light. If they 
bade Him work in a little plot of garden ground, to train the 
creepers or water the flowers, it was He, Who was the great 
Dresser of the vineyard of His Church, Who took in hand 
the waterpot and the gardening tools. All men may ponder 
well the hint of a child subject to His parents, that no Heav- 
[101] enly call is ever to be trusted which bids one neglect the 
obvious duties that lie near to hand. 

There is an Oriental proverb which says: "The first deities 
which the child has to acknowledge are his parents." And 
another says that, "Obedient children are as ambrosia to 
the gods." The parent is to the child God's representative; 
and in order that parents may not have a responsibility that 
will be too heavy for them, God gives each child a soul, as so 
much clay which their hands can mould in the way of truth 
and love. Whenever a child is given to parents, a crown is 
made for it in Heaven; and woe to those parents if that child 
is not reared with a sense of responsibility to acquire that 

Although the words, "He was subject to them," apply espe- 
cially to that period of Our Lord's life between the finding 
in the Temple and the Marriage Feast of Cana, nevertheless 
they are also a true description of His course in after years. 
His whole life was one of subjection and submission. He said 
that He had come to do His Father's Will, and now He was 
obeying it, for it was His Father's Will that He have Mary for 
a Mother and Joseph as a foster father. Later on, He sub- 
mitted to receiving John's Baptism, although He had no 
need of it. He also submitted to paying the tax for the sup- 
port of the Temple, although He, as the only begotten Son of 
the Father, was rightfully exempt from that tax. He bade 
the Jews submit themselves to the Romans who had con- 
quered them, and to render unto Caesar the things that are 
Caesar's. He bade His disciples observe and do all that the 
Scribes and Pharisees enjoined, because they sat in Moses' 
Chair and held a position of authority; finally, He became 
obedient under the sentence of death, drinking with the 
[102] utmost meekness even to the dregs the cup of suffering 
which His Father had appointed to Him. 

What adds particular emphasis to the fact of His obedi- 
ence was that Our Blessed Lord was subject to parents so 
much His inferiors even as a creature is far below a Creator. 
One day the sun in the Heavens, in obedience to the voice of 
a Man, stopped in its course. So, obedient to the voice of 
Mary, the Light of the World submitted for thirty years - I 
might almost say that it stopped in full midday to illumine, 
embrace, and enrich her for all eternity. 

The Apostles had the advantage of only three years' teach- 
ing to prepare themselves for the establishment of His king- 
dom, but the Blessed Mother had the advantage of thirty 
years. When one tries to imagine how much insight and 
inspiration would come from catching only a momentary 
glimpse of Wisdom Incarnate, one is appalled to think how 
much inspiration and wisdom Mary must have received from 
the years of communing with her Divine Son. She must have 
been instructed in the Paternity of God, and learned how 
the Person of the Father could not be born nor proceed from 
others, but how He was rather the origin of all else. She 
must have understood, too, the eternal generation of the 
Son by the Father, as being not inferior but equal in Divinity 
and Eternity. She must have understood, too, how the Holy 
Spirit, the Third Person, proceeded from the Father and 
the Son as from one principle, by an act of Will, equal to the 
other Persons in the Divine Nature. If Our Blessed Lord 
after His Resurrection could so inspire the disciples of Em- 
maus in the interpretation of Scripture, then what must have 
been the thirty years' rehearsal of the Scriptures to His 
Mother, as He explained to her how she was to be the new 
[103] Eve, and how she was to share In His work of Redemption 
beginning at Cana and ending at the Cross? Let those who 
think that the Church pays too much attention to Mary give 
heed to the fact that Our Blessed Lord Himself gave ten times 
as much of His life to her as He gave to His Apostles. 

If the mere touch of the hem of His garment could cure 
a woman suffering with an issue of blood, then the human 
mind can hardly contemplate what thirty years of residence 
with the eternal Logos of God must have done for a human 
mind. After the years of companioning with Philip, Our 
Blessed Lord said to him, somewhat impatiently, at the Last 
Supper: "Have I been with you all this time and still you 
do not understand?" How much greater an understanding 
of His mysteries He must therefore have expected of His 
Mother, who had suffered with Him during all His hidden 

Returning again to the idea of His obedience: the Gospel 
indicates immediately three effects of Our Lord's submission 
and obedience, namely, growth in age and grace and wisdom. 
The first effect of obedience is age, or bodily perfection. The 
inverse of this truth is that disobedience to nature destroys 
bodily health - disobedience to God's law spoils spiritual 
health. By submitting Himself to the laws of human de- 
velopment, He consented to an unfolding which in childhood 
should exhibit a perfect child; in youth, a perfect youth; and 
in manhood, a perfect man. It was the unfolding of a perfect 
bud in a perfect flower. Whatever age one accepts as the one 
in which the body reaches its natural perfection, the fact 
is that it lasts only a short time; then begins the decline. As 
the moon begins to lessen as soon as it reaches its fullness, so 
too the human body grows to its peak of development, and 
[104] then begins its age. If thirty-three be taken as the age of 
full bodily growth and development, it would seem that Our 
Blessed Lord's ardent love for humanity waited until that 
age, when He had attained perfect growth and vigor, in order 
that He might offer His life in sacrifice at its very fullness. 
As the act of His Will was total and complete, so the human 
nature which He would sacrifice on the Cross would not be 
wanting in anything for its perfect oblation. Obedience to 
the law of nature produces physical maturity; obedience to 
the law of parents produces mental maturity; obedience to 
the Will of the Heavenly Father produces spiritual matu- 
rity. Our Blessed Lord, therefore, as the Lamb of God, sub- 
mitted Himself to the shepherding of His Mother so that 
He might be physically perfect and without stain for the 
great day of His sacrifice on which He would be offered with- 
out opening His mouth. 

The flower that is planted in the right place to absorb out 
of the earth and atmosphere the nutritive forces that it needs 
will grow. It toils not, neither does it spin, and yet its in- 
visible machinery captures the sunbeams and converts them 
into flowers and fruit for the welfare of man. So, children 
placed in the right environment grow in age, too. Place a 
water wheel in a stream, and it turns; place it in the rocks, 
and it does not move. So long as we are in the wrong place, 
we cannot grow. The secret of the growth of Our Lord is that 
He started in the right place; He was bathed with the warmth 
and the light and the refreshment of a home that was dedi- 
cated to God. One cannot put a bomb under a child and make 
it a man. Each thing has its own appointed law of growth, 
provided its roots are properly fixed. All growth is silent, and 
there is not a word out of the home of Nazareth in these 
[105] eighteen long years between the Finding in the Temple 
and the Marriage Feast. Thus, when nature is baptized in the 
fullness of the powers of spring, there is hardly a rustle. The 
whole movement takes place secretly and silently, for the 
new world comes up like the sound of a trumpet. The great- 
est moral structures grow from day to day without noise; 
God's kingdoms come without observation. So Our Blessed 
Lord stayed in His place, did His carpentry, was obedient 
to His parents, accepted the restraints of His position, met 
His cares with a transcendent disdain, drank in the sunlight 
of His Father's* Faith , possessed His soul in perfect patience, 
although urged by deep sympathy and a throbbing desire to 
save man. There was no hurry, no impatience, no quick ma- 
turing of power, no marring of strength by haste. When 
Perseus told Pallas Athena that he was ready to go forth, 
young as he was, against the fabled monster Medusa, the 
strange lady smiled and said: "Not yet; you are too young, 
and too unskilled; for this is Medusa, the mother of a mon- 
strous brood. Return to your home and do the work which 
awaits you there. You must play the man in that before I can 
think you worthy to go in search of Medusa." If it is hurry 
that enfeebles us, it is the silent obedience to God's law that 
serves to strengthen us. 

* Either refers to Christ's foster father St. Joseph, or if to God 
the Father, then not in a literal sense, for God, knowing all things, 
does not have faith. [Ed.]

In addition to the growth in age, which is the fruit of obedi- 
ence, the Gospel also indicates that there was a growth in 
grace and wisdom, too. These are both properties of the soul. 
As His human body grew in stature to fair and comely pro- 
portions, so His human intelligence and experimental knowl- 
edge unfolded gradually into full blossom. Growth in wisdom 
and grace or fervor for God imply that the person who grows 
is, at a more advanced age, wiser than when he was young -
[106] he knows something and he understands something which 
he did not know and understand before. But how could this 
be in His case, since He is the Son of God? Was He not God 
even when He was a child? And how can God be ignorant of 
anything or fail to understand anything? How could He 
grow in wisdom? Our Lord, even when He was a child, was 
Everlasting God; but it is also true that He was "manifest in 
the flesh." He became really and truly, and for our sake, an 
infant, a child, and a man. He did not merely seem to be 
human; He actually was human. In order that He might be 
really and truly a man, He consented, in His wonderful con- 
descension, not to call into exercise those powers which He 
had as God. It is not too difficult for us to understand how a 
person, having strength, may refrain from using it. For ex- 
ample, a father can gently pick up a child, or a giant can turn 
the pages of a book. In like manner, a man may have strong 
and good eyesight, but he need not use it farther than he 
pleases. He may shut his eyes altogether; in that case he will 
see nothing. He may only half open the eyes - in that case he 
will see only dimly and confusedly. Or he may live in a 
dungeon, where there are only a few straggling rays of light 
to pierce the gloom. 

So with Our Blessed Lord He had in His Divine nature 
all wisdom and power; yet when He made His appearance 
among us as man, He did grow in that experimental knowl- 
edge which comes from living and doing certain things. He 
came into our dark nature, just as a free man might come out 
of the light of day into a dungeon and consent to be shut up. 
For a man in a prison may have the power to walk many miles 
but the dungeon will permit him to walk only a few paces, 
He may have the power to see many miles, but his vision is 
[107] limited to the prison walls. So Our Blessed Lord took a 
nature like ours in all things save sin, and accommodated Him- 
self to the feebleness of that nature - limited Himself, if we 
may use the expression, to the wals of it. That is why Our 
Blessed Lord never worked a miracle in His own behalf. Tak- 
ing upon Himself a human nature, He subjected Himself to 
its limitations. But what is most interesting is that the sub- 
jection to His Blessed Mother is associated with growth in 
wisdom and favor with God. It is in His human nature 
that Our Blessed Lord gives us a perfect example of obe- 

This leads us to a forgotten aspect of obedience to law, 
namely, that intelligence is related to obedience. It is only 
by obedience that we grow in wisdom. A scientist who would 
know the laws of nature must sit passively before nature. He 
may not dictate to nature its laws, nor may he impose his own 
intelligence upon nature; rather, the more passive he is be- 
fore nature, the more nature will reveal its secrets. And he 
who would play golf well must know how to hold the clubs 
aright, for here, too, wisdom is related to obedience. The 
more we obey the inherent laws of anything, the more that 
thing reveals itself to us. To obey God's laws because they 
are the ordinance of an All-wise and an All-loving God is the 
best means to discover the wisdom and the beauty of life. 
One whole Psalm of the Scriptures, Psalm 118 [119], is devoted 
to the idea that in obedience to the ordinance of God, we grow 
in intelligence. Our Blessed Lord, developing this idea later on 
in His Life, said: "if any man will do the will of my Father, 
he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or 
whether I speak of myself." Because obedience is the secret 
of perfection and wisdom (which Our Lord revealed by being 
[108] subject to His parents), He insisted in His great upheaval 
of values that: "Unless you become converted and become as 
little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven." 
(Matt. 18:3) The great gates of the Kingdom, which are re- 
sistant to the poundings and the thumpings of the mighty, 
will swing back at the simple touch of a child. No old people 
ever enter the Kingdom of Heaven - certainly not those who 
have grown old in their own conceit. Childlikeness, with its 
accompanying obedience, is an indispensable qualification 
for membership in His community. Christianity began with 
the worship of a Babe, and only by the continued recognition 
of childlikeness will men be recognized as children of God. 
But childlikeness is not childishness. To be childish is to re- 
tain in maturity what should have been discarded at the 
threshhold of manhood. Childlikeness, on the contrary, im- 
plies that with the mental breadth and practical strength and 
wisdom of maturity there is associated the humility, trust- 
fulness, spontaneity, and obedience of the child. It is the 
proud, and the prigs, and the bullies who make social life 
difficult - the people who love the first places, who insist 
always on their own right, who refuse to serve unless they 
can be chairmen, who throw their weight around whether 
by fair means or by foul. Against all of these Our Blessed 
Lord sets Himself: first of all, by being obedient to His par- 
ents, and then, at the end of His life, by taking a towel and 
washing the feet of His disciples. "So it is that the Son of 
Man did not come to have service done him; he came to serve 
others, and to give his life as a ransom for the lives of many." 
(Matt 20:28) 

What makes the obedience of this Child all the more im- 
pressive is that He is the Son of God. He Who is the General 
[109] of humanity, becomes a Soldier in the ranks; the King 
steps from His throne, and plays the role of peasant. If He Who 
Is the Son of God makes Himself subject to His Mother and 
foster father in reparation for the sins of pride, then how shall 
children escape the sweet necessity of obedience to those who 
are their lawfully constituted superiors? The Fourth Com- 
mandment, "Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother," 
has been broken by every generation since the dawn of man. 
At Nazareth, children were taught obedience by Him Who 
really is the Commandment. In this particular instance, where 
the Child is Divine, one might think that He at least would 
have reserved for Himself the right of "self-expression." Mary 
and Joseph, it seems, could have, with great propriety, opened 
the first "progressive school" in the history of Christianity 
in which the child could do whatever He pleased: for the 
Child could never have displeased. And yet Our Lord says: 
"And He who sent me is with me: He has not left me all alone, 
since what I do is always what pleases Him." (John 8:29) 

But there is no evidence that Jesus limited Mary and 
Joseph to the mere nominal right to command. The Gospel 
says: "He lived there in subjection to them." Two great mira-
cles of humility and exaltation are involved - God obeying a 
woman, and a woman commanding her God. The very fact
that He makes Himself subject endows her with power. By 
this long span of voluntary obedience, He revealed that the 
Fourth Commandment is the bedrock of family life. For, look- 
ing at it in a larger way, how could the primal sin of disobedi- 
ence against God be undone, except by the obedience in the 
flesh of the very God Who was defied? The first revolt in 
God's universe of peace was the thunderbolt of Lucifer: "I 
will not obey!" Eden caught up the echo, and down the ages 
[110] its infraction traveled, winging its way into the nook and 
crevices of every family where there were gathered a father, 
a mother, and a child. 

By making Himself subject to Mary and Joseph, the Divine 
Child proclaims authority in the home and in public life to 
be a power granted by God Himself. From this follows the 
duty of obedience, for the sake of God and of one's conscience. 
As later on He would tell Pilate that the civil authorities exer- 
cised no power except that given them from above, so now 
by His obedience He bears witness to the solemn truth that 
parents exercise their authority in the name of God. Thus 
parents have the most sacred claim on their children, because 
their first responsibility is to God. "Every soul must be sub- 
missive to its lawful superiors; authority comes from God 
only, and all authorities that hold sway are of his ordinance." 
(Rom. 13:1) 

If the parents surrender their legitimate authority and pri- 
mary responsibility to the children, the State takes up the 
slack. When obedience in conscience in the home vanishes, 
it will be supplanted by obedience by the force of the State. 
The glory of the ego which infects the twentieth century is so 
much social nonsense. The divine glory of the State which 
is now taking the ego's place is a social nuisance. Believers in 
ego-consciousness and collective consciousness may regard 
humility and obedience as a vice, but it is the stuff of which 
homes are made. When in the one family of the world, where 
one might legitimately excuse "child-worship," for here the 
child is God, one finds on the contrary child-obedience, then 
let no one deny that obedience is the cornerstone of the 
home. Obedience in the home is the foundation of obedience 
in the commonwealth, for in each instance, conscience sub- 
[111] mits to a trustee of God's authority. If it be true that the 
world has lost its respect for authority, it is only because it 
lost it first in the home. By a peculiar paradox, as the home 
loses its authority, the authority of the State becomes tyran- 
nical. Some moderns would swell their ego into infinity; but 
at Nazareth Infinity stoops down to earth to shrink into the 
obedience of a child. 

The Marriage Feast at Cana 

[112] Everyone is interested in a marriage. If the human heart 
does not have enough love in its heart, it seeks out those who 
are in love. The most famous marriage in history was at Cana, 
because Our Blessed Lord was present there. 

A marriage in the East was always a time of great rejoicing. 
The bridegroom went to the home of the bride, and in those 
days it was never the bride who kept the bridegroom waiting, 
but rather the bridegroom, as in the parable, who kept the 
bride waiting. The bride was veiled, from head to foot, to 
symbolize her subjection as a wife. Both partners fasted the 
whole day before the marriage and confessed their sins in 
prayer as on the Day of Atonement. Ceremonies began at 
twilight, for it was a custom in Palestine, no less than in 

To bear away 
The bride from home at blushing shut of day. 

The Cana marriage is the only occasion in Sacred Scripture 
where Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is mentioned before Him. 
It is very likely that it was one of her relatives who was being 
married, and possible that she was present at the wedding 
[113] before Him. It is a beautiful and a consoling thought that 
Our Blessed Lord, Who came to teach, sacrifice, and urge us to 
take up our cross daily, should have begun His public life by 
assisting at a marriage feast. 

Sometimes these Eastern marriages lasted for seven days, 
but in the case of the poorer people, for only two. Whatever 
was the case, at Cana, at some period of the entertainment 
the wine suddenly ran out. This was very embarrassing be- 
cause of the passionate devotion of the Eastern people to hos- 
pitality, and also because of the mortification it offered to 
the wedded pair. It is permitted us to conjecture why the 
wine should have failed. This was a wine country, and it is 
very likely that the host laid in an abundant supply. The ex- 
planation for the deficiency is probably the fact that Our 
Blessed Lord did not come alone. He brought with Him His 
disciples, and this apparently threw a heavy burden upon 
the store of wine. Our Lord and His disciples had already 
been journeying for three days and had covered a distance 
of ninety miles. The disciples were thus so hungry, and so 
thirsty, that it was a wonder that the food did not give out as 
well as the wine. Since wine was a symbol of mirth and health 
to the people, it was important that their need be filled as 
an old Hebrew proverb put it: "Where wine is wanting, doc- 
tors thrive." 

One of the most amazing features of this marriage is that it 
was not the wine servant, whose business it was to service 
the wine, who noticed the shortage, but rather Our Blessed 
Mother. (She notes our needs before we ourselves feel them) 
She made a very simple prayer to her Divine Son about the 
empty wine pots when she said: "They have no wine." Hid- 
den in the words was not only a consciousness of the power 
[114] of her Divine Son, but also an expression of her desire 
to remedy an awkward situation. Perhaps the Blessed Mother 
had already seen Our Lord work many miracles in secret 
although He had not yet worked a single one in public. For 
if there had not already been a consciousness of the truth 
that He was the Son of the Omnipotent God, she would not 
have asked for a miracle. Some of the greatest miracles of the 
world have similarly been done through the influence of a 
mother: "The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules 
the world." 

The answer of Our Blessed Lord was, "Woman what is 
that to me? My hour is not yet come." 

Note that Our Lord said: "My hour is not yet come." 
Whenever Our Blessed Lord used that expression, "hour," 
it was in relation to His Passion and His Death. For example, 
the night that Judas crossed the brook of Cedron to blister 
His lips with a kiss, Our Lord said: "This is your hour and 
the powers of darkness." A few hours before, when seated 
at His Last Supper on earth and anticipating His Death, He 
said: "Father, the hour is come. Glorify Thy Son with the 
glory that He had with Thee before the foundations of the 
world were laid." Earlier, when a crowd attempted to take 
His Life by stoning, Scriptures say: "His hour was not yet 
come." Our Blessed Lord was obviously, at Cana, saying that 
the hour in which He was to reveal Himself had not yet come 
according to His Father's appointment. And yet, implicit in 
Mary's statement was a request that He actually begin it. 
Scriptures tell us: "So in Cana of Galilee, Jesus began His 
miracles, and made known the glory that was within Him, 
so that His disciples learned to believe in Him." (John 2:11) 

[115] In our own language, Our Lord was saying to His 
Blessed Mother: "My dear Mother, do you realize that you 
are asking me to proclaim my Divinity - to appear before the 
world as the Son of God, and to prove my Divinity by my 
works and my miracles? The moment that I do this, I begin 
the royal road to the Cross. When I am no longer known 
among men as the son of the carpenter, but as the Son of 
God, that will be my first step toward Calvary. My hour is 
not yet come; but would you have me anticipate it? Is it 
your will that I go to the Cross? If I do this, your relationship 
to me changes. You are now my mother. You are known every- 
where in our little village, as the "Mother of Jesus." But if I 
appear now as the Saviour of men, and begin the work of 
Redemption, your role will change too. Once I undertake the 
salvation of mankind, you will not only be my mother, but 
you will also be the mother of everyone whom I redeem. I 
am the Head of humanity; as soon as I save the body of hu- 
manity you, who are the mother of the Head, become also 
the mother of the body. You will then be the universal mother, 
the new Eve, as I am the new Adam. 

"To indicate the role that you will play in Redemption, I 
now bestow upon you that title of universal motherhood; I 
call you Woman. It was to you that I referred when I said 
to Satan that I would put enmity between him and the 
Woman, between his brood of evil and your seed, Which I 
am. That great title of Woman I dignify you with now. And 
I shall dignify you with it again when my hour comes and 
when I am unfurled upon the Cross, like a wounded eagle. 
We are in this work of Redemption together. What is yours 
is mine. From this hour on, we are not just Mary and Jesus, 
[116] we are the new Adam and the new Eve, beginning a new 
humanity, changing the water of sin into the wine of life. Know- 
ing all this, my dear Mother, is it your will that I anticipate 
the Cross and that I go to Calvary?" 

Our Blessed Lord was presenting to Mary not merely the 
choice of asking for a miracle or not; rather He was asking if 
she would send Him to His death. He had made it quite 
plain that the world would not tolerate His Divinity that if 
He turned water into wine, some day wine would be changed 
into blood. The answer of Mary was one of complete co- 
operation in the Redemption of Our Blessed Lord, as she 
spoke for the last time in Sacred Scripture. Turning to the 
wine steward she said, "Do whatever He tells you." 
(John 2:5) What a magnificent valedictory! As Our 
Blessed Lord had said that He had come on earth to do His 
Father's Will, so Mary bade us do the Will of her Divine Son. 
"Do whatever He tells you."  The waterpots 
are filled, are brought to Our Blessed Lord, and then, in the 
magnificent lines of the poet, Richard Crashaw, "The uncon- 
scious waters saw their God, and blushed." 

The first lesson from Cana is: "Aid yourself and Heaven 
will aid you." Our Lord could have produced wine out of 
nothing, as He had made the world from nothing, but He 
willed that the wine servants bring their pots and fill them 
with water. We must not expect God to transform us with- 
out our bringing something to be transformed. In vain do 
we say: "O Lord, help me overcome my evil habits or let 
me be sober, pure, and honest." What good are these prayers 
unless we bring at least our own efforts? God will, indeed, 
make us peaceful and happy again, but only on condition that 
we bring the water of our own feeble efforts. We are not to 
[117] remain passive, while awaiting the manifestation of God's 
power; there must be the indispensable gesture of our own 
liberty, even though it brings to God something as unspirited 
as the routine waters of our insipid lives! Collaboration with 
God is essential if we are to become the sons of God. 

The second lesson of Cana is that Mary intercedes to gain 
us what we need, without our always knowing our needs. 
Neither the wine steward nor the diners knew that the wine 
was failing; therefore, they could not ask for help. In like 
manner, if we do not know what our soul needs, how can we 
put such needs in our prayers? Often we do not know what is 
vital to our lives: St. James tells us that we do not ask aright, 
but seek to satisfy only our carnal and egotistic desires. 

Surely we could go to Our Lord, as the wine steward, as 
the diners could have gone to Our Lord. But they did not go, 
and some of us would not go at all; or, if we did go, we 
would not always ask for the right thing. There are so few 
of us who know the reason for our unhappiness. We pray for 
wealth, to "break the bank,"' to win the Irish Sweepstakes; we 
ask for peace of mind, and then dash off to a psychoanalytic 
couch - when we should ask for peace of soul, be on our knees 
bemoaning our sins and asking pardon. So few of us know 
that we need God. We are at the end of our strength and even 
of our hope; and we do not know that we ought to be asking 
for Divine strength and Divine Love. 

That is where devotion to Mary comes in. The people at 
the table did not know what they needed to maintain the 
joy of the marriage feast, even when the Lord was in their 
midst. There are many of us who would not come to Our 
Lord, unless we had someone who knows our needs better 
than we know ourselves, and who will ask Our Lord for us. 
[118] This role of Mary makes her acceptable to everyone. 
Those at the marriage table did not need to know she was the 
Mother of the Son of God in order to receive the benefit of 
her Divine Son. But one thing is certain - no one will ever 
call on her without being heard, nor without being finally 
led to her Divine Son, Jesus Christ, for Whose Sake she alone 
exists for Whose Sake she was made pure and for Whose 
Sake she was given to us. 

The Marriage Feast of Cana also reveals how Mary makes 
up for our battered and weak wills; she does this by substitut- 
ing herself for us. It is very hard for us to receive a Divine 
Favor unless we desire it. Until we love and serve God, we 
are inert and dead. It is impossible for most of us to ask for 
a soul-healing, for so few of us know that we are wounded. 
Mary comes into this crisis of life, to substitute for us in the 
same way that a mother substitutes for a sick child. The child 
cannot tell the mother its need. There may be a pin prick- 
ing it, it may be hungry, or it may be sick. The child may cry, 
but it is as vague a complaint as our own adult cries when 
we are unhappy and fearful, worried and frustrated. The 
mother in such a circumstance carries the child to the doctor. 
The mother thus puts herself in the place of the child  
who does not have the knowledge to know what is best for 
it, or cannot will to do anything to help itself. She "doubles," 
as it were, for the freedom of the child. Thus does the mother 
dispose the child to receive what is best for it. And as the 
mother knows the needs better than the babe, so the Blessed 
Mother understands our cries and worries, and knows them 
better than we know ourselves. As the baby needs the doctor, 
so the Blessed Mother knows we need her Divine Son. As 
Our Lord mediates between us and the Heavenly Father, so 
[119] the Blessed Mother mediates between us and Our Divine 
Lord. She fills our empty pots, she supplies the elixir of life, 
she prevents the joys of life from ebbing away. Mary is not 
our salvation - let us not be absurd on that. The mother is not 
the doctor, and neither is Mary the Saviour. But Mary brings 
us to the Saviour! 

Three years now pass, and all that Our Blessed Lord told 
His Mother at Cana is fulfilled. The hour is come, the wine 
has changed to blood. He has worked His miracles and men 
have crucified Him. Unfurled on either side of Him, as if to 
put Him in their class, are two thieves. The world will 
allow only the mediocre to live. It hates the very wicked, like 
the thieves, because they disturb its possessions and security. 
It also hates the Divinely Good, it hates Our Blessed Lord, 
because He disturbs its conscience, its heart, and its evil 

Our Blessed Lord now looks down from His Cross to the 
two most beloved creatures that He has on earth, John and 
His Blessed Mother. He picks up the refrain of Cana, and 
addresses Our Blessed Mother with the same title He gave 
her at the marriage feast. He calls her, "Woman." It is the 
second Annunciation. With a gesture of His dust-filled eyes 
and His thorn-crowned head, He looks longingly at her, who 
had sent Him willingly to the Cross, who is now standing 
beneath it as a cooperator in His Redemption and He says: 
"Behold thy son." Then, turning to John, He does not call him 
John; to do that would have been to address him as the son 
of Zebedee and no one else. But in his anonymity, John stands 
for all of us - Our Lord thus says to His beloved disciple: 
"Behold thy mother." 

Here is the answer, after all these years, to the mysterious 
[120] words in the Gospel of the Incarnation which stated that 
Our Blessed Mother laid her "first born" in the manger. Did that 
mean that Our Blessed Mother was to have other children? 
It certainly did, but not according to the flesh. Our Divine 
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the only Son of Our Blessed 
Mother by the flesh. But Our Lady was to have other children, 
not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit! 

Love and Sorrow 

[121]Pleasure is the bait God uses to make creatures recognize 
their destiny, whether it be that of eating for the sake of the indi- 
vidual health, or mating for the sake of society. God also puts 
a limit on pleasure; one of these is a "fed-up-ness," which 
comes from nature, the other is that of the woman, who is most 
reasonable when man is most irrational. In this domain of the 
flesh, man is liberty, woman, the law. 

If, then, a woman is not taught carnal pleasure by the man, 
two effects will follow: first, her restraining power will create 
continency and purity. Since pleasure is outgoing, she will 
become more inward and self-possessed, as if hugging a great 
secret to her heart. Desire is anticipation, pleasure is participa- 
tion, but purity is emancipation. The second effect is just the 
opposite, namely, sorrow. She who lives without pleasure not 
only gives up something, she receives something - it may be 
the hatred of those who see in her the enemy of the flesh, 
whether they be man or woman. Such is the story of virgins 
like Agatha, Cecilia, Susanna and, in our day, Maria Goretti. 
As the sun hardens mud, so purity provokes those who are al- 
ready sinners to hardness of heart, persecution, and violence. 

The day Mary declared: "I know not man" she not only 
[122] affirmed that she was untaught by pleasures, but she also 
brought her soul to such a focused inwardness for God's sake 
that she became a Virgin - not only through the absence of 
man, but also through the presence of God. The secret that 
she kept was no other than the Word! Bereft of the pleasures 
of the body but not of all joys, she could sing to her cousin, 
Elizabeth: "My soul doth rejoice in the Lord." 

On the other hand, Mary was also a Woman of Sorrow. To 
love God immediately and uniquely makes a woman hated. 
The day she brought her Babe, her Divine Love, to the Tem- 
ple, the old priest Simeon told her that a sword her soul would 
pierce. The hour the Roman sergeant ran the spear into the 
Heart of Christ, he pierced two hearts with one blow the 
heart of the God-man for Whom Mary gave up the knowledge 
of pleasure, and the heart of Mary, who gave her beauty to 
God and not to man. 

No one in the world can carry God in his heart without an 
inner joy, and an outer sorrow; without singing a Magnificat 
to those who share the secret, and without feeling the thrust 
of a sword from those who want freedom of the flesh without 
the law. Love and sorrow often go together. In carnal love, 
the body swallows the soul; in spiritual love, the soul en- 
velopes the body. The sorrow of the first is never to be satis- 
fied; one who wants to drink the ocean of love is unhappy if 
limited to a mere cup with which to drink. The sorrow of the 
second love is never being able to do enough for the beloved. 

In the human love of marriage, the joys of love are a pre- 
payment for its duties, responsibilities, and, sometimes, its sor- 
rows. Because the crosses lie ahead in human love, there is 
the Transfiguration beforehand, when the face of love seems 
to shine as the sun, and the garments are as white as snow. 
[123] There are those who, like Peter, would wish to capitalize the 
joys and to make a permanent tabernacle of love on the moun- 
taintops of ecstasy. But there is always the Lord, speaking 
through the conscience and saying that to capture love in a 
permanent form one must pass through a Calvary. The early 
transports of love are an advance, an anticipation, of the real 
transports that are to come when one has mounted to a higher 
degree of love through the bearing of a Cross. 

What most human love forgets is that love implies responsi- 
bility; one may not fool with the levers of the heart in the vain 
hope of escaping duties, fidelity, and sacrifice for the beloved. 
So-called birth control, which assists in neither birth nor con- 
trol, is based on the philosophy that love is without obliga- 
tions. The real problem is how to make humans realize the 
sacredness of love how to induce mothers to see a Messiah- 
ship in the begetting of children. The best way to achieve this 
would surely be to bring forward the example of a 
PREPAYMENT OF PLEASURE - one who would say: "I will 
do it all for nothing! I will accept the bearing of a child, the 
responsibility of his education, a share in His world mission," 
without even asking for the ecstasies of the flesh. Such is the 
role of the Blessed Mother. She undertook marriage, birth, a 
share in the Agony, all for the love of God, not asking the 
initial joys to prepare her for those trials. The best way to 
convince mankind that it must take the medicine which cures 
is to take it oneself and without the sugar coating, yet never 
wince because of its bitterness. The Sisters of Charity in the 
poor sections of our cities, the missionaries caring for the 
victims of leprosy - these give inspiration to all social work- 
ers. The former do their work for nothing except the love of 
[124] God, and thus they keep before the world the ideal of a 
disinterested affection for the hungry and the sick.

In the Annunciation, God told Mary, through an angel, 
that she would conceive without the benefit of human affec- 
tion and its joys - that is, with no payment of pleasure to her- 
self. She thus dissociated carnal joys and social responsibili- 
ties. Her sacrifice was a rebuke to those who would snare the 
music by breaking the lute, pick up the violins of life and 
never produce a tune, lift a chisel to marble and yet never 
bring forth a statue. But it also gave courage to those whose 
burdens are heavier than their pleasures - to those who have 
children destined for death when they are hardly launched 
on the sea of life, to those who find their love's surrender be- 
trayed and even despised. If Our Lord allowed Mary to suffer 
the trials that even the most grieved mother could suffer -
such as to have her Son pursued by the totalitarian soldiers at 
two years of age, to be a refugee in a foreign country, to point 
to a Father's business which would end in death, to be arrested 
falsely, to be condemned by His own people, and to suffer the 
taking-off in the prime of life - it was in order to convince 
mothers with sorrows that trials without pleasures can be 
overcome, and that the final issues of life are not solved here 
below. If the Father gave His Son a Cross and the Mother 
a sword, then somehow sorrow does fit into the Divine Plan of 
life. If Divine Innocence and His Mother, who was a sinless 
creature, both underwent agonies, it cannot be that life is a 
snare and a mockery, but rather it is made clear that love and 
sorrow often go together in this life, and that only in the next 
life is sorrow left behind. 

Christians are the only people in history who know that 
the story of the Universe has a happy ending. The Apostles 
[125] did not discover this until after the Resurrection, and then 
they went through the ancient world shouting and screaming 
the excitement of the good news. Mary knew it for a long 
time, and in the Magnificat sang about it, even before Our 
Lord was born. 

Great is the sorrow of a woman when her husband aban- 
dons his responsibility to her, and seeks what he calls "free- 
dom" from what is his own flesh and blood. What the woman 
feels in such abandonment is akin to what the Church feels 
in heresy. Whenever, through history, those who are the mem- 
bers of her Mystical Body isolate themselves from her flesh 
and blood, not only do they suffer in their isolation, but the 
Church suffers still more. The irresponsibility of love is the 
source of life's greatest tragedies, and as the Church suffers 
more than the heretic, so the woman probably suffers more 
than the erring man. She stands as the "other half of that 
man, a constant reminder to him and to society that what God 
joined together has, by a perverse will, been rent asunder. 
The husband may have left his spouse to teach another woman 
pleasure; but the wife remains as the unfinished symphony, 
clamoring for spiritual understanding. A civilization which 
no longer stands before God in reverence and responsibility 
has also renounced and denounced the dignity of woman, and 
the woman who submits and shares in such a divorce of re- 
sponsibility from love stands in such a civilization either as 
a mirage or a pillar of salt. 

The world is not shocked at seeing love and sorrow linked 
arm in arm, when love is not perfect; but it is less prepared 
to see immaculate love and sorrow in the same company. The 
true Christians should not be scandalized at this, since Our 
Lord is described as the Man of Sorrows. He Who came to 
[126] this earth to bear a Cross might conceivably drag it through 
His Mother's heart. Scripture suggests that He schooled and 
disciplined her in sorrow. There is an expression used today, 
always in a bad sense, but which, if used in the right sense, 
could apply to the relations between Our Lord and His Blessed 
Mother, and that is "alienation of affections." He begins de- 
taching Himself from His Mother, seemingly alienating His 
affections with growing unconcern only to reveal at the very 
end that what He was doing was introducing her through 
sorrow to a new and deeper dimension of love. 

There are two great periods in the relations of Jesus and 
Mary, the first extending from the Crib to Cana, and the sec- 
ond, from Cana to the Cross. In the first, she is the Mother 
of Jesus; in the second, she begins to be the Mother of all 
whom Jesus would redeem in other words to become the 
Mother of men. 

From Bethlehem to Cana, Mary has Jesus as a mother has 
a son; she even calls Him familiarly, at the age of twelve, 
"Son," as if that were her usual mode of address. He is with 
her during those thirty years, fleeing in her arms to Egypt, 
living at Nazareth, and being subject to her. He is hers, and 
she is His, and even at the very moment when they walk into 
the wedding feast, her name is mentioned first: "Mary, the 
Mother of Jesus, was there." 

But from Cana on, there is a growing detachment, which 
Mary helps to bring on herself. She induced her Son to work 
His first miracle, as He changed her name from Mother to 
Woman, the significance of which will not become clear un- 
til the Cross. Readers of Genesis will recall how God prom- 
ised that Satan would be crushed through the power of a 
woman. When Our Lord tells Mary that they are both in- 
[127 volved in the manifestation of His Divinity, she practically 
sends Him to the Cross by asking for the first of the miracles 
and, by implication, His Death. A year or more later, as a 
devoted Mother, she follows Him in His preaching. It is 
announced to Our Lord that His Mother is seeking Him. 
Our Lord with seeming unconcern, turns to the crowd and 
asks: "Who is my Mother?" (Matt. 12:48) Then, revealing 
the great Christian mystery that relationship is not dependent 
on flesh and blood but on union with Divine Nature through 
grace, He adds: "If anyone does the will of my Father who is 
in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Matt. 

The ties that bind us to one another are less of race than 
of obedience to the Will of God. From that text originated the 
titles of "Father" "Mother," "Brother," and "Sister," as used 
throughout the Church to imply that our relations are in 
Christ rather than in human generation. He Who called His 
Mother, "Woman," is now telling us and her that we can en- 
ter a new family with her, as He has already taught us to 
enter into new bonds with His Own Heavenly Father. If we 
can call God "Our Father," then we can call her "Our Mother," 
if we do the Will of the Father. 

The mystery comes to an end at Calvary when, from the 
Cross, Our Lord now hearkens back to Cana and again uses 
the word "Woman," the title of universal motherhood. Speak- 
ing to her of all of us who will be redeemed by His Precious 
Blood, He says: "Behold thy Son." Finally, to John who, un- 
named, stood for us, He said: "Behold thy Mother." She be- 
comes our Mother the moment she loses Her Divine Son. The 
mystery is now solved. What seemed an alienation of affec- 
tion was in reality a deepening of affection. No love ever 
[128] mounts to a higher level without death to a lower one. Mary 
dies to the love of Jesus at Cana, and recovers Jesus again at 
Calvary with His Mystical Body whom He redeemed. It was, 
for the moment, a poor exchange, giving up her Divine Son 
to win us; but in reality, she did not win us apart from Him. 
On that day when she came to Him preaching, He began to 
merge the Divine Maternity into the new motherhood of all 
men; at Calvary He caused her to love men as He loved them. 

It was a new love, or perhaps the same love expanded over 
the wider area of humanity. But it was not without its sorrow. 
It cost Mary something to have us as sons. She could beget 
Jesus in joy in a stable, but she could beget us only on Cal- 
vary, only in labors great enough to make her Queen of Mar- 
tyrs. The Fiat she pronounced when she became the Mother 
of God now becomes another Fiat, like unto Creation in the 
immensity of what she brought forth. It was also a Fiat which 
so enlarged her affections as to increase her pains. The bit- 
terness of Eve's curse - that she would bring forth her chil- 
dren in sorrow - is now fulfilled, and not by the opening of a 
womb, but by the piercing of a heart, as Simeon had foretold. 
It was the greatest of all honors to be the Mother of Christ; 
but it was also a great honor to be the Mother of Christians. 
There was no room in the inn for that first birth; but Mary 
had the whole world for her second. 

Here, at last, is the answer to the query, "Did Mary have 
other children besides Jesus ?" She certainly did. Millions and 
millions of them! But not according to the flesh. He alone was 
born of her flesh; the rest of us were born of her spirit. As 
the Annunciation tied her up with Divinity before the com- 
ing of Her Divine Son, so this word from the Cross tied her 
up with all humanity until His Second Coming. She was a 
[129] child of that chosen section of humanity called "the seed 
of Abraham," the scion of that long line of royalty and kings 
who hand on to her Divine Son the "throne of His Father 
David." But, as the new Eve, she hands on to her Son the 
heritage of the whole human race, from the day of Adam 
until now; and through her Son she breaks the boundaries of 
that limited blessing to the seed of Abraham, and pours it out 
upon every nation, race, and peoples. Her moment in his- 
tory was the "fullness of time"; this phrase meant that the 
human race had at last produced a representative worthy of 
becoming the chosen vessel of the Son of God. "One who 
comes into his property while he is still a child has no more 
liberty than one of the servants, though all the estate is his." 
(Gal. 4:1) 

Our Lord is not immersed in history, but Mary is. He comes 
to earth from outside time; she is within time. He is the supra- 
historical; she, the historical. He is the Eternal in time, she 
is the House of the Eternal in time. She is the final meeting 
place of all humanity and all history. Or, as Coventry Pat- 
more says: 

Knot of the cord 
Which binds together all and all unto their Lord. 

At the end of the stoiy of love and sorrow, we see that love 
needs a constant purification, and this happens only through 
sorrow. Love that is not nourished on sacrifice becomes trite, 
banal, and commonplace. It takes the other for granted, makes 
no more professions of love because it has sounded no new 
depths. Our Lord would not have His Mother's love on one 
plane of ecstasy while on this earth; He would universalize it, 
expand it, make it Catholic. But to do this, He had to send 
[130] Her Seven swords of sorrow which enlarged her love 
from the Son of Man to the sons of men. 

Without this deepening, love falls into one of two dangers: 
contempt or pity - contempt because the other no longer 
pleases the ego, pity because the other is worthy of some con- 
sideration without love. Had Our Divine Lord not called 
Mary into the fellowship of His suffering, had she been 
dispensed from Calvary because of her Majesty as His Mother, 
she would have had contempt for those who took the life 
of her only Son, and only pity for us who had no such bless- 
ing. But because He first identified Himself with our human 
nature at Bethlehem, later with our daily tasks at Nazareth 
and with our misunderstandings at Galilee and Jerusalem, and 
finally with our tears and blood and agonies at Calvary, He 
gave to us His Mother and, to all of us, the lesson that love 
must embrace mankind or suffocate in the narrowness of its 
ego. Summoned by Him, to share His daily Cross, her love 
expanded with His own and reached such, a peak of universal 
identification that His Ascension was paralleled by her As- 
sumption. He, Who inspired her to stand at the foot of the 
Cross as an active participant in its redemption, would not 
be remiss in crowning such love with union with Him where 
love would be without sorrow, or where sorrow would be 
swallowed up in joy. 

Love never becomes a cult without a death. How often 
does even human love come into the full consciousness of 
the other's devotedness, until the death of the partner? His- 
tory becomes legend after death, and love becomes adora- 
tion. One no longer keeps any memory of the other's faults, 
or what was left undone; all is surrounded in an aureole of 
praise. The ennui of life fades away; the quarrels that hurt 
[131] evaporate, or else they are transformed into souvenirs 
of affection. The dead are always more beautiful than the living. 

In the case of Mary, we have no memories of her imper- 
fections fading away, for she was "blessed among women"; 
but we do have such a deepening of love as to produce a cult. 
He, Who sacrificed Himself for us, thought so much of His 
Death that He left a Memorial of it and ordered its re-enact- 
ment in what is today known as the Mass. His love, that died, 
became adoration in the Eucharist. Why, then, should not 
she who gave Him that Body with which He could die, and 
that Blood which He could pour forth, be remembered, not 
in adoration, but in veneration, and as long as time endures? 
But if , along with the God Who is the Man of Sorrows and 
who entered into His Glory, there is a creature, a Woman of 
Sorrows who accompanied Him into that glory, then we 
all have an inspiration to love through a cross and with it, 
that we, too, may reign with Christ, 

The Assumption and the Modern World 

[132] The definition of the Immaculate Conception was made 
when the Modern World was born. Within five years of that 
date, and within six months of the apparition of Lourdes where 
Mary said, "I am the Immaculate Conception." Charles Dar- 
win wrote his Origin of Species, Karl Marx completed his 
Introduction to the Critique of the Philosophy of Hegel ("Re- 
legion is the opium of the people"), and John Stuart Mill 
published his Essay on Liberty. At the moment the spirit of 
the world was drawing up a philosophy that would issue in 
two World Wars in twenty-one years, and the threat 'of a 
third, the Church came forward to challenge the falsity of 
the new philosophy. Darwin took man's mind off his Divine 
Origin and fastened it on an unlimited future when he would 
become a kind of God. Marx was so impressed with this idea 
of inevitable progress that he asked Darwin if he would 
accept a dedication of one of his books. Then, following Feuer- 
bach, Marx affirmed not a bourgeois atheism of the intellect, 
but an atheism of the will, in which man hates God because 
man is God. Mill reduced the freedom of the new man to 
license and the right to do whatever he pleases, thus prepar- 
[133] ing a chaos of conflicting egotisms, which the world 
would solve by Totalitarianism. 

If these philosophers were right, and if man is naturally 
good and capable of deification through his own efforts, then 
it follows that everyone is immaculately conceived. The 
Church arose in protest and affirmed that only one human 
person in all the world is immaculately conceived, that man 
is prone to sin, and that freedom is best preserved when, 
like Mary, a creature answers Fiat to the Divine Will. 

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception wilted and killed 
the false optimism of the inevitable and necessary progress 
of man without God. Humbled in his Darwinian-Marxian-Mil- 
lian pride, modern man saw his doctrine of progress evaporate. 
The interval between the Napoleonic and Franco-Prussian 
Wars was fifty-five years; the interval between the Franco- 
Prussian War and World War I was forty-three years; the 
interval between World Wars I and II, twenty-one years. 
Fifty-five, forty-three, twenty-one, and a Korean War five 
years after World War II is hardly progress. Man finally 
saw that he was not naturally good. Once having boasted that 
he came from the beast, he now found himself to be acting 
as a beast. 

Then came the reaction. The Optimistic Man who boasted 
of his immaculate conception now became the Pessimistic 
Man who could see within himself nothing but a bundle of 
libidinous, dark, cavernous drives. As in the definition of the 
Immaculate Conception, the Church had to remind the world 
that perfection is not biologically inevitable, so now in the 
definition of the Assumption, it has to give hope to the crea- 
ture of despair. Modern despair is the effect of a disappointed 
hedonism and centers principally around Sex and Death. To 
[134] these two ideas, which preoccupy the modern mind, the 
Assumption is indirectly related. 

The primacy of Sex is to a great extent due to Sigmund 
Freud, whose basic principle in his own words is: "Human 
actions and customs derive from sexual impulses, and funda- 
mentally, human wishes are unsatisfied sexual desires. . . . 
Consciously or unconsciously, we all wish to unite with our 
mothers and kill our fathers, as Oedipus did - unless we are 
female, in which case we wish to unite with our fathers and 
murder our mothers." The other major concern of modern 
thought is Death. The beautiful philosophy of being is re- 
duced to Dasein*, which is only in-der-Welt-sein*. There is no 
freedom, no spirit, and no personality. Freedom is for death. 
Liberty is contingency threatened with complete destruc- 
tion. The future is nothing but a projection of death. The aim 
of existence is to look death in the eye. 

*"Being somewhere" and "A being-in-the-world," respectively [Ed.]

Jean-Paul Sartre passes from a phenomenology of sexual- 
ity to that which he calls "nausea," or a brazen confrontation 
of nothingness, toward which existence tends. Nothing pre- 
cedes man; nothing follows man. Whatever is opposite him 
is a negation of his ego, and therefore nothingness. God cre- 
ated the world out of nothingness; Sartre creates nothingness 
out of the world and the despairing human heart. "Man is a 
useless passion." 

Agnosticism and Pride were the twin errors the Church 
had to meet in the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception; 
now it is the despair resulting from Sex and Death it has to 
meet in this hour. When the Agnostics of the last century 
came in contact with the world and its three libidos, they 
became libertines. But when pleasure diminished and made 
hungry where most it satisfied, the agnostics, who had be- 
[135] come libertines by attaching themselves to the world, now 
began in disgust to withdraw themselves from the world and 
became philosophers of Existentialism. Philosophers like Sar- 
tre, and Heidegger, and others are born of a detachment 
from the world, not as the Christian ascetic, because he loves 
God, but because they are disgusted with the world. They 
become contemplatives, not to enjoy God, but to wallow in 
their despair, to make a philosophy out of it, to be brazen 
about their boredom, and to make death the center of their 
destiny. The new contemplatives are in the monasteries of 
the jaded, which are built not along the waters of Siloe, but 
along the dark banks of the Styx. 

These two basic ideas of modern thought, Sex and Death, 
are not unrelated. Freud himself hinted at the union of Eros 
and Thanatos. Sex brings death, first of all because in sex the 
other person is possessed, or annihilated, or ignored for the 
sake of pleasure. But this subjection implies a compression 
and a destruction of life for the sake of the Eros. Secondly, 
death is a shadow which is cast over sex. Sex seeks pleasure, 
but since it assumes that this life is all, every pleasure is sea- 
soned not only with a diminishing return, but also with the 
thought that death will end pleasure forever. Eros is Thanatos. 
Sex is Death. 

From a philosophical point of view, the Doctrine of the As- 
sumption meets the Eros-Thanatos philosophy head on, by 
lifting humanity from the darkness of Sex and Death to the 
light of Love and Life. These are the two philosophical pillars 
on which rests the belief in the Assumption. 

1. Love. The Assumption affirms not Sex but Love. St. 
Thomas in his inquiry into the effects of love mentions ecstasy 
as one of them. In ecstasy one is "lifted out of his body," an 
[136] experience which poets and authors and orators have felt 
in a mild form when in common parlance, "they were carried 
away by their subject." On a higher level, the spiritual phe- 
nomenon of levitation is due to such an intense love of God 
that saints are literally lifted off the earth. Love, like fire, 
burns upward, since it is basically desire. It seeks to become 
more and more united with the object that is loved. Our 
sensate experiences are familiar with the earthly law of gravi- 
tation which draws material bodies to the earth. But in addi- 
tion to terrestrial gravitation, there is a law of spiritual gravi- 
tation, which increases as we get closer to God. This "pull" 
on our hearts by the Spirit of God is always present, and it is 
only our refusing wills and the weakness of our bodies as a 
result of sin which keep us earth-bound. Some souls become 
impatient with the restraining body; St. Paul asks to be de- 
livered from its prison house. 

If God exerts a gravitational pull on all souls, given the in- 
tense love of Our Lord for His Blessed Mother which de- 
scended, and the intense love of Mary for Her Lord which 
ascended, there is created a suspicion that love at this stage 
would be so great as "to pull the body with it." Given further 
an immunity from original sin, there would not be in the 
Body of Our Lady the dichotomy, tension, and opposition 
that exists in us between body and soul. If the distant moon 
moves all the surging tides of earth, then the love of Mary 
for Jesus and the love of Jesus for Mary should result in such 
an ecstasy as "to lift her out of this world." 

Love in its nature is an Ascension in Christ and an As- 
sumption in Mary. So closely are Love and the Assumption 
related that a few years ago the writer, when instructing a 
Chinese lady, found that the one truth in Christianity which 
[137] was easiest for her to believe was the Assumption. She 
personally knew a saintly soul who lived on a mat in the woods, 
whom thousands of people visited to receive her blessing. 
One day, according to the belief of all who knew the saint, 
she was "assumed" into heaven. The explanation the convert 
from Confucianism gave was: "Her love was so great that her 
body followed her soul." One thing is certain: the Assump- 
tion is easy to understand if one loves God deeply, but it is 
hard to understand if one loves not. 

Plato in his Symposium, reflecting the Grecian view of the 
elevation of love, says that love of the flesh should lead to 
love of the spirit. The true meaning of love is that it leads to 
God. Once the earthly love has fulfilled its task, it disap- 
pears, as the symbol gives way to reality. The Assumption is 
not the killing of the Eros, but its transfiguration through 
Agape. It does not say that love in a body is wrong, but it 
does hold that it can be so right, when it is Godward, that 
the beauty of the body itself is enhanced. 

Our Age of Carnality which loves the Body Beautiful is 
lifted out of its despair, born of the Electra and Oedipus in- 
cests, to a Body that is Beautiful because it is a Temple of 
God, a Gate through which the Word of Heaven passed to 
earth, a Tower of Ivory up which climbed Divine Love to kiss 
upon the lips of His Mother a Mystic Rose. With one stroke 
of an infallible dogmatic pen, the Church lifts the sacredness 
of love out of sex without denying the role of the body in 
love. Here is one body that reflects in its uncounted hues the 
creative love of God. To a world that worships the body, the 
Church now says: "There are two bodies in heaven, one the 
glorified human nature of Jesus, the other the assumed hu- 
man nature of Mary. Love is the secret of the Ascension of 
[138] one and of the Assumption of the other, for Love craves 
unity with its Beloved. The Son returns to the Father in the unity 
of Divine Nature; and Mary returns to Jesus in the unity of hu- 
man nature. Her nuptial flight is the event to which our whole 
generation moves." 

2. Life. Life is the second philosophical pillar on which the 
Assumption rests. Life is unitive; death is divisive. Goodness 
is the food of life, as evil is the food of death. Errant sex im- 
pulses are the symbol of the body's division from God as a 
result of original sin. Death is the last stroke of that division. 
Wherever there is sin, there is multiplicity: the Devil says, 
"My name is Legion; there are many of us." (Mark 5:9) But 
life is immanent activity. The higher the life, the more im- 
manent is the activity, says St. Thomas. The plant drops its 
fruit from a tree, the animal drops its kind for a separate exist- 
ence, but the spiritual mind of man begets the fruit of a 
thought which remains united to the mind, although distinct 
from it. Hence intelligence and life are intimately related. 
Da mihi intellectum et vivam.* God is perfect life because of 
perfect inner intellectual activity. There is no extrinsicism, no 
dependence, no necessary outgoing on the part of God. 

*"Give me understanding, that I may live." [Ed.]

Since the imperfection of life comes from remoteness to 
the source of life and because of sin, it follows that the crea- 
ture who is preserved from original sin is immune from that 
psychological division which sin begets. The Immaculate 
Conception guarantees a highly integrated and unified life. 
The purity of such a life is threefold: a physical purity which 
is integrity of body; a mental purity without any desire for 
a division of love, which love of creatures apart from God 
would imply; and finally, a psychological purity which is 
immunity from the uprising of concupiscence, the sign and 
[139] symbol of our weakness and diversity. This triple purity 
is the essence of the most highly unified creature whom this 
world has ever seen. 

Added to this intense life in Mary, which is free from the 
division caused by sin, there is still a higher degree of life 
because of her Divine Motherhood. Through her portals Eter- 
nity became young and appeared as a Child; through her, as 
to another Moses, not the tables of the Law, but the Logos 
was given and written on her own heart; through her, not a 
manna which men eat and die, but the Eucharist descends, 
which if a man eats, he will never die. But if those who com- 
mune with the Bread of Life never die, then what shall we 
say of her who was the first living Ciborium of that Eucharist, 
and who on Christmas day opened it at the communion rail 
of Bethelehem to say to Wise Men and Shepherds: "Behold 
the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world"? 

Here there is not just a life free from the division which 
brings death, but a life united with Eternal Life. Shall she, as 
the garden in which grew the lily of divine sinlessness and the 
red rose of the passion of redemption, be delivered over to 
the weeds and be forgotten by the Heavenly Gardener? 
Would not one communion preserved in grace through life 
ensure a heavenly immortality? Then shall not she, in whose 
womb was celebrated the nuptials of eternity and time, be 
more of eternity than time? As she carried Him for nine 
months, there was fulfilled in another way the law of life: 
"And they shall be two in one flesh" 

No grown men and women would like to see the home in 
which they were reared subjected to the violent destruction 
of a bomb, even though they no longer lived in it. Neither 
would Omnipotence, Who tabernacled Himself within Mary, 
[140] consent to see His fleshly home subjected to the dissol-
ution of the tomb. If grown men love to go back to their homes 
when they reach the fullness of life, and become more con- 
scious of the debt they owe their mothers, then shall not 
Divine Life go back in search of His living cradle and take 
that "flesh-girt paradise" to Heaven with Him, there to be 
"gardenered by the Adam new"? 

In this Doctrine of the Assumption, the Church meets the 
despair of the world in a second way. It affirms the beauty 
of life as against death. When wars, sex, and sin multiply 
the discords of men, and death threatens on every side, the 
Church bids us lift up our hearts to the life that has the 
immortality of the Life which nourished it. Feuerbach said 
that a man is what he eats. He was more right than he knew. 
Eat the food of earth, and one dies; eat the Eucharist, and 
one lives eternally. She, who is the mother of the Eucharist, 
escapes the decomposition of death. 

The Assumption challenges the nothingness of the Mor- 
tician philosophers in a new way. The greatest task of the 
spiritual leaders today is to save mankind from despair, into 
which Sex and Fear of Death have cast it. The world that 
used to say, "Why worry about the next world, when we 
live in this one?" has finally learned the hard way that, by 
not thinking about the next life, one cannot even enjoy this 
life. When optimism completely breaks down and becomes 
pessimism, the Church holds forth the promise of hope. 
Threatened as we are by war on all sides, with death about 
to be rained from the sky by Promethean fires, the Church 
defines a Truth that has Life at its center. Like a kindly 
mother whose sons are going off to war, she strokes our heads 
and says: "You will come back alive, as Mary came back 
[141] again after walking down the valley of Death." As the world 
fears defeat by death, the Church sings the defeat of death. 
Is not this the harbinger of a better world, as the refrain of 
life rings out amidst the clamors of the philosophers of 

As Communism teaches that man has only a body, but not 
a soul, so the Church answers: "Then let us begin with a 
Body." As the mystical body of the anti-Christ gathers around 
the tabernacle doors of the cadaver of Lenin, periodically 
filled with wax to give the illusion of immortality to those 
who deny immorality, the Mystical Body of Christ bids the 
despairing to gaze on the two most serious wounds earth 
ever received: the empty tomb of Christ and the empty tomb 
of Mary. In 1854 the Church spoke of the Soul in the Im- 
maculate Conception. In 1950 its language was about the 
Body: the Mystical Body, the Eucharist, and the Assump- 
tion. With deft dogmatic strokes the Church is repeating 
Paul's truth to another pagan age: "Your bodies are meant 
for the Lord." There is nothing in a body to beget despair. 
Man is related to Nothingness, as the Philosophers of Deca- 
dentism teach, but only in his origin, not in his destiny. They 
put Nothingness as the end; the Church puts it at the be- 
ginning, for man was created ex nihilo.* The modern man gets 
back to nothingness through despair; the Christian knows 
nothingness only through self-negation, which is humility. 
The more that the pagan "nothings" himself, the closer he 
gets to the hell of despair and suicide. The more the Chris- 
tian "nothings" himself, the closer he gets to God. Mary went 
so deep down into Nothingness that she became exalted. 
Respexit humilitatem ancillae suae.** And her exaltation was 
also her Assumption. 

 * ex nihilo, "out of nothing". [Ed.]
** "He has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden." (Lk 1:48) [Ed.]

[142] Coming back to the beginning ... to Eros and Thanatos: 
Sex and Death, said Freud, are related. They are related in 
this sense: Eros as egotistic love leads to the death of the 
soul. But the world need not live under that curse. The As- 
sumption gives Eros a new meaning. Love does lead to death. 
Where there is love, there is self-forgetfulness, and the maxi- 
mum in self-forgetfulness is the surrender of life. "Greater 
love than this no man has, that he lay down his life for his 
friends." (John 15:13) Our Lord's love led to His death. 
Mary's love led to her transfixion with seven swords. Greater 
love than this no woman has, that she stand beneath the 
Cross of her Son to share, in her own way, in the Redemption 
of the world. 

Within three decades the definition of the Assumption will 
cure the pessimism and despair of the modern world. Freud, 
who did so much to develop this pessimism, took as his motto: 
"If I cannot move the Gods on high, I shall set all hell in an 
uproar" That uproar which he created will now be stilled by 
a Lady as powerful as an "army drawn up in battle array." The 
age of the "body beautiful" will now become the age of the 

In Mary there is a triple transition. In the Annunciation 
we pass from the holiness of the Old Testament to the holi- 
ness of Christ. At Pentecost we pass from the holiness of the 
Historical Christ to the holiness of the Mystical Christ or His 
Body, which is the Church. Mary here receives the Spirit for 
a second time. The first overshadowing was to give birth to 
the Head of the Church; this second overshadowing is to give 
birth to His Body as she is in the midst of the Apostles abiding 
in prayer. The third transition is the Assumption, as she be- 
comes the first human person to realize the historical destiny 
[143] of the faithful as members of Christ's Mystical Body, 
beyond time, beyond death, and beyond judgment. 

Mary is always in the vanguard of humanity. She is com- 
pared to Wisdom, presiding at Creation; she is announced 
as the Woman who will conquer Satan, as the Virgin who 
will conceive. She becomes the first person since the Fall to 
have a unique and unrepeatable kind of union with God; she 
mothers the infant Christ in Bethlehem; she mothers the 
Mystical Christ at Jerusalem; and now, by her Assumption, 
she goes ahead like her Son to prepare a place for us. She 
participates in the glory of Her Son, reigns with Him, pre- 
sides at His Side over the destinies of the Church in time, 
and intercedes for us, to Him, as He, in His turn, intercedes 
to the Heavenly Father. 

Adam came before Eve chronologically. The new Adam, 
Christ, comes after the new Eve, Mary, chronologically, al- 
though existentially He preceded her as the Creator a crea- 
ture. By stressing for the moment only the time element, Mary 
always seems to be the Advent of what is in store for man. 
She anticipates Christ for nine months, as she bears Heaven 
within her; she anticipates His Passion at Cana, and His 
Church at Pentecost. Now, in the last great Doctrine of the 
Assumption, she anticipates heavenly glory, and the defini- 
tion comes at a time when men think of it least. 

One wonders if this could not be the last of the great Truths 
of Mary to be defined by the Church, Anything else might 
seem to be an anticlimax after she is declared to be in heaven, 
body and soul. But actually there is one other truth left to 
be defined, and that is that she is the Mediatrix, under Her 
Son, of all graces. As St. Paul speaks of the Ascension of Our 
Lord as the prelude to His intercession for us, so we, fittingly, 
[144] should speak of the Assumption of Our Lady as a prelude 
to her intercession for us. First, the place, heaven; then, the 
function, intercession. The nature of her role is not to call 
Her Son's attention to some need, in an emergency unno- 
ticed by Him, nor is it to "win" a difficult consent. Rather it 
is to unite herself to His compassionate Mercy and give a 
human voice to His Infinite Love. The main ministry of Mary 
is to incline men's hearts to obedience to the Will of Her 
Divine Son. Her last recorded words at Cana are still her 
words in the Assumption: "Do whatever He shall say to 
you." Added to these is the Christian prayer written 
by Francis Thompson to the daughter of the ancient Eve: 

The celestial traitress play, 
And all mankind to bliss betray; 
With sacrosanct cajoleries, 
And starry treachery of your eyes, 
Tempt us back to Paradise. 

The World the Woman Loves 

Man and Woman 

[147] In human love there are two poles: man and woman. In Di- 
vine love there are two poles: God and man. From this differ- 
ence, finite in the first instance, infinite in the second, arise 
the major tensions of Me. The difference in the God-man rela- 
tionship between Eastern religions and Christianity is that in 
the East man moves toward God; in Christianity, God moves 
first toward man. The Eastern way fails because man cannot 
lift himself by his own bootstraps. Grass does not become a 
banana, through its own efforts. If carbon and phosphates are 
to live in man, man must come down to them, and elevate 
them to himself. So if man is to share the Divine Nature, God 
must come down to man. This is the Incarnation. 

The first difference in the man-woman relationship can be 
understood in terms of a philosophical distinction between 
intelligence and reason which St. Thomas Aquinas makes, 
and which has saved his followers from falling into errors like 
those of Henri Bergson. Intelligence is higher than reason. 
The angels have intelligence, but they have no reason. In- 
telligence is immediacy of understanding and, in the domain 
of knowledge, is best explained in terms of "seeing." When a 
mind says, "I see," he means that he grasps and comprehends. 
[148] Reason, however, is slower. It is mediate, rather than imme- 
diate. It makes no leap, but takes steps. These steps in a rea- 
soning process are threefold: major, minor, conclusion. 

Applying the distinction to man and woman, it is gen- 
erally true that man's nature is more rational and woman's, 
more intellectual. The latter is what is generally meant by 
intuition. The woman is slower to love, because love, for her, 
must be surrounded by a totality of sentiments, affections, 
and guarantees. The man is more impulsive, wanting pleas- 
ures and satisfactions, sometimes outside of their due rela- 
tionship. For the woman, there must be a vital bond of rela- 
tionship between herself and the one she loves. The man is 
more on the periphery and rim, and does not see her whole 
personality involved in his pleasures. The woman wants unity, 
the man, pleasure, 

On the more rational side, the man often stands completely 
bewildered at a "woman's reasons." They are difficult for him 
to follow, because they are not capable of being broken down, 
analyzed, torn apart. They come as a "whole piece"; her con- 
clusions obtrude without any apparent basis. Arguments seem 
to leave her cold. This is not to say who is right, for either 
approach could be right under different circumstances. In 
the trial of Our Blessed Lord the intuitive woman, Claudia, 
was right, and her practical husband, Pilate, was wrong. He 
concentrated on public opinion as a politician; she concen- 
trated on justice, for the Divine Prisoner in her eyes was a 
"just man". This immediacy of conclusion can often make a 
woman very wrong as it did in the case of the wife of Zebedee, 
when she urged Our Lord to allow her sons to sit at his right 
and left side when He came into the Kingdom. Little did she 
see that a chalice of suffering had to be drunk first, for Di- 
[149] vine Reason and Law lias dictated that "no one would 
be crowned unless he had struggled." 

A second difference is between reigning and governing. The 
man governs the home, but the woman reigns. Government 
is related to justice; reigning is related to love. Instead of 
man and woman being opposites, in the sense of contraries, 
they more properly complement one another as their Creator 
intended when He said: "It is not good for man to be alone." 
In the old Greek legend referred to by Plato, he stated that 
the original creature was a composite of man and woman and, 
for some great crime against God, this creature was divided, 
each going its separate way but neither destined to be happy 
until they were reunited in the Elysian fields. 

The Book of Genesis reveals that original sin did create a 
tension between man and woman, which tension is solved in 
principle by man and woman in the New Testament becom- 
ing "one flesh" and a symbol of the unity of Christ and His 
Church. This harmony, then, should exist between man and 
woman, in which each fills up, at the store of the other, his 
or her lacking measure in quiet and motion. 

The man is normally more serene than the woman, more 
absorbent of the daily shocks of life, less disturbed by trifles. 
But, on the other hand, in great crises of life, it is the woman 
who, because of her gentle power of reigning, can give great 
consolation to man in his troubles. When he is remorseful, 
sad, and disquieted, she brings comfort and assurance. As the 
surface of the ocean is agitated and troubled, but the great 
depths are calm, so in the really great catastrophes which 
affect the soul, the woman is the depth and man the surface. 

The third difference is that the woman finds less repose 
in mediocrity than man. The more a person is attached to the 
[150] practical, the concrete, the monetary, and the material, the 
more his soul becomes indifferent to great values and, in par- 
ticular, to the Tremendous Lover. Nothing so dulls the soul 
as counting, and only what is material can be counted. The 
woman is more idealistic, less content over a long period of 
time with the material, and more quickly disillusioned about 
the carnal. She is more amphibious than man, in the sense that 
she moves with great facility in the two zones of matter and 
spirit. The oft-repeated suggestion that woman is more re- 
ligious than man has some basis in truth, but only in the sense 
that her nature is more readily disposed toward the ideal. 
The woman has a greater measure of the Eternal and man a 
greater measure of Time, but both are essential for an in- 
carnational universe, in which Eternity embraces Time in a 
stable of Bethlehem. When there is descent into an equal 
degree of vice, there is always a greater scandal caused by a 
woman than the man. Nothing seems more a profanation of 
the sacred than a drunken woman. The so-called "double 
standard," which does not exist and which has no ethical 
foundation, is actually based on the unconscious impulse of 
man to regard woman as the preserver of ideals, even when 
he fails to live up to them. 

There never can be a Giver without a Gift. This suggests 
the fourth difference. Man is generally the giver, woman the 
gift. The man has; the woman is. Man has a sentiment; woman 
is sentiment. Man is afraid of dying; woman is afraid of not 
living. She is unhappy unless she makes the double gift: first 
of herself to man, then of herself to posterity, in the form 
of children. This quality of immolation, because it involves 
the wholeness of self, makes a woman seem less heroic than 
a man. The man concentrates his passions of love into great 
[151] focal points. When there is a sudden outburst of love, such 
as on a battlefield, he is immediately crowned the hero. The 
woman, however, identifies love with existence and scatters 
her self-oblation through life. By multiplying her sacrifices, 
she seems to be less of a hero. Her daily dissipation of vital 
energies in the service of others makes no one act seem out- 
standing. It may well be that the woman is capable of greater 
sacrifice than man, not only because she is gift, which is the 
same as surrender, but also because seeing ends rather than 
means, and destinies rather than the present, she sees the 
pearl of great price for which lesser fields may be sacrificed. 

These differences are not irreconcilable opposites; rather, 
they are complementary qualities. Adam needed a helpmate, 
and Eve was made "flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone." 
The functional differences corresponded with certain psychic 
and character differences, which made the body of one in 
relation to another like the violin and the bow, and the spirit 
of one to another like the poem and meter. 

There is no such problem as, "Which is the more valuable?" 
for in the Scriptures husband and wife are related, one to an- 
other, as Christ and His Church. The Incarnation meant 
Christ's taking unto Himself a human nature as a spouse and 
suffering and sacrificing Himself for it, that it might be un- 
spotted and holy; so husband and wife are bound together in 
a union unbreakable except by death. But there is a prob- 
lem which is purely relative, namely, "Which stands up bet- 
ter in a crisis - man or woman?" One can discuss this in a 
series of historical crises, but without arriving at any decision. 
The best way to arrive at a conclusion is to go to the greatest 
crisis the world ever faced, namely, the Crucifixion of Our 
Divine Lord. When we come to this great drama of Calvary, 
[152] there is one fact that stands out very clearly: men failed. 
Judas, who had eaten at His table, lifted up his heel against 
Him, sold Him for thirty pieces of silver, and then blistered 
His lips with a kiss, suggesting that all betrayals of Divinity 
are so terrible that they must be prefaced by some mark of 
esteem and affection. Pilate, the typical time-serving poli- 
tician, afraid of incurring the hatred of his government if he 
released a man whom he already admitted was innocent, sen- 
tenced Him to death. Annas and Caiphas resorted to illegal 
night trials and false witnesses, and rent their garments as if 
scandalized at His Divinity. The three chosen Apostles, who 
had witnessed the Transfiguration, and, therefore, were 
thought strong enough to endure the scandal of seeing the 
Shepherd struck, slept in a moment of greatest need, because 
they were unworried and untroubled. On the way to Calvary, 
a stranger, interested only in the drama of a man going to 
execution, was forced and compelled to offer Him a helping 
hand. On Calvary itself, there is only one of the twelve 
Apostles present, John, and one wonders if even he would 
have been there had it not been for the presence of the Mother 
of Jesus. 

On the other hand, there is not a single instance of a 
woman's failing Him. At the trial, the only voice that is raised 
in His defense is the voice of a woman. Braving the fury of 
court officials, she breaks into the Judgment Hall and bids 
her husband, Pilate, not to condemn the "just man." On the 
way to Calvary, although a man is forced to help carry the 
Cross, the pious women of Jerusalem, ignoring the mockery 
of the soldiers and bystanders, console Him with words of 
sympathy. One of them wipes His face with a towel, and, 
forever after, has the name of Veronica, which means "true 
[153] image," for it was His image the Saviour left on her towel. 
On Calvary itself, there are three women present, and the name 
of each is Mary: Mary of Magdala, who is forever at His feet, 
and will be there again on Easter morn; Mary of Cleophas, 
the mother of James and John; and Mary, the Mother of 
Jesus - the three types of souls forever to be found beneath 
the Cross of Christ: penitence, motherhood, and virginity. 

This is the greatest crisis this earth ever staged, and women 
did not fail. May not this be the key to the crisis of our hour? 
Men have been ruling the world, and the world is still col- 
lapsing. Those very qualities in which man, apparently, shone 
are the ones that today seem to be evaporating. The first of 
his peculiar powers, reason, is gradually being abdicated, as 
philosophy rejects first principles, as law ignores the Eternal 
Reason behind all ordinances and legislation, and as psy- 
chology substitutes for reason the dark, cavernous instincts 
of the subterranean libido. The second of his powers, gov- 
erning, is gradually vanishing, as democracy becomes arith- 
mocracy, as numbers and polls decide what is right and wrong, 
and as people degenerate into masses who are no longer self- 
determined personalities, but groups moved by alien and ex- 
trinsic forces of propaganda. The third of his powers, dedica- 
tion to the temporal and the material, has become so perverted 
that the material, in the shape of an atom, is used to annihilate 
the human, and even to bring the world to a point where 
time itself may cease in the dissolution of the world as "an 
unsubstantial pageant faded." His fourth attribute, that of 
being the giver, has in its forgetfulness of God made him the 
taker; assuming that this world is all, he feels he ought to 
get all he can out of it, before he dies like an animal. 

This does not mean that woman has kept her qualities of 
[154] soul untarnished; she would be the first to admit that she, 
too, has failed to live up to her ideals. When the bow is broken, 
the violin cannot give forth its chords. Woman has been 
insisting on "equality" with man, not in the spiritual sense, 
but only as the right to be a competitor with him in the eco- 
nomic field. Admitting, then, only one difference, namely, the 
procreation of species, which is often stifled for economic rea- 
sons, she no longer receives either minor or major respect 
from her "equal" man. He no longer gives her a seat in the 
crowded train; since she is his equal in doing a man's work, 
there is no reason why she should not be an Amazon and 
fight with man in war and be bombed with man in Nagasaki. 
Totalitarian war, which makes no distinction of combatant 
and civilian, of soldier and mother, is a direct consequence 
of a philosophy in which woman abdicated her peculiar su- 
periority and even the right to protest against the demoraliza- 
tion. This is not to condemn women's place in economic life, 
but only to condemn the failure to live up to those creative 
and inspiring functions which are specifically feminine. 

In this time of trouble, there must be a hearkening back 
to a woman. In the Crisis of the Fall of man, it was to a Woman 
and her seed that God promised relief from the catastrophe; 
in the crisis of a world when many, blessed with Revelation, 
forgot it and the Gentiles abandoned Reason, it was to a 
Woman that an angel was sent, to offer the fulfillment of the 
promise that the seed would be Word made flesh, Our Di- 
vine Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is a historical fact that, 
whenever the world has been in danger of collapse, there 
has been re-emphasis of devotion to the Woman, who is not 
Salvation but who renders it by bringing her children back 
again to Christ. 

[155] More important still, the modern world needs, above all 
things else, the restoration of the image of man. Modern poli- 
tics, from Monopolistic Capitalism through Socialism to Com- 
munism, is the destruction of the image of man. Capitalism 
made man a "hand" whose business it was to produce wealth 
for the employer; Communism made man a "tool" without a 
soul, without freedom, without rights, whose task it was to 
make money for the State. Communism, from an economic 
point of view, is rotted Capitalism. Freudianism reduced the 
Divine image of man to a sex organ, which explained his men- 
tal processes, his taboos, his religion, his God, and his Super- 
Ego. Modern education denied, first, that he had a soul, then 
that he had a mind, finally that he had a consciousness. 

The major problem of the world is the restoration of the 
image of man. Every time a child is born into the world, there 
is a restoration of the human image, but only from the physi- 
cal point of view. The surcease from the tragedy can come 
only from the restoration of the spiritual image of man, as a 
creature made to the image and likeness of God and destined 
one day, through the human will in cooperation with God's 
grace, to become a child of God and an heir of the Kingdom 
of Heaven. The image of man that was first ruined in the re- 
volt against God in Eden was restored when the Woman 
brought forth a Man a perfect man without sin, but a man 
personally united with God. He is the pattern of the new 
race of men, who would be called Christians. If the image 
of man was restored through a Woman, in the beginning, 
then shall not the Woman again be summoned by the Mercy 
of God, to recall us once again to that original pattern? 

This would seem to be the reason for the frequent revela- 
tions of the Blessed Mother in modern times at Salette, 
[156] Lourdes, and Fatima. The very emergence of woman into 
the political, economic, and social life of the world suggests 
that the world needs a continuity which she alone can sup- 
ply; for while man is more closely related to things, she is the 
protector and defender of life. She cannot look at a limping 
dog, a flower overhanging a vase, without her heart and mind 
and soul going out to it, as if to bear witness that she has 
been appointed by God as the very guardian and custodian 
of life. Although contemporary literature associates her with 
frivolity and allurement, her instincts find repose only in the 
preservation of vitality. Her very body commits her to the 
drama of existence and links her in some way with the rhythm 
of the cosmos. In her arms, life takes its first breath, and in 
her arms, life wants to die. The word most often used by sol- 
diers dying on the battlefields is "Mother." The woman with 
her children is "at home" and man is "at home" with her. 

Woman restores the physical image, but it is the spiritual 
image that must be restored, both for man and woman. This 
can be done by the Eternal Feminine: the Woman who is 
blessed above all women. Through the centuries woman has 
been saying: "My Hour is not yet come," but now, "The Hour 
is come." Mankind will find its way back again to God through 
the Woman who will gather up and restore the broken frag- 
ments of the image. This she will do in three ways. 

By restoring constancy in love. Love today is fickle, al- 
though it was meant to be permanent. Love has only two 
words in its vocabulary: "You" and "Always." "You," because 
love is unique. "Always," because love is enduring. Love never 
says, "I will love you for two years and six days." Divorce is 
inconstancy, infidelity, temporality, the very fragmentation 
of the heart. But how shall constancy return except through 
[157] woman? A woman's love is less egotistic, less ephemeral 
than a man's. Man has to struggle to be monogamous; a woman 
takes this for granted. Because every woman promises only 
what God can give, man is prone to seek the Infinite in a mul- 
tiplication of the finite. The woman, on the contrary, is more 
devoted and faithful to the one she loves on human terms. But 
modern woman too often fails to give an example of this con- 
stancy; she either lets her love degenerate into a jealous pos- 
sessiveness, or she learns infidelity from law courts and psy- 
chiatrists. There is need of The Woman, whose love was so 
constant that the Fiat to physical union with love in the 
Annunciation became celestial union with it in the Assump- 
tion. The Woman, who leads all souls to Christ, and who at- 
tracts only to "betray" them to her Divine Son, will teach 
lovers that "What God hath joined together let no man put 

By restoring respect for personality. Man generally speaks 
of things: woman generally speaks of persons. Since man is 
made to control nature and to rule over it, his principal con- 
cern is with some thing. Woman is closer to life, and its pro- 
longation; her life centers more on personality. Even when 
falling from feminine heights, her gossip is about people. 
Since the whole present political and economic world is 
gauged to the destruction of personality, God in His Mercy 
is trumpeting once more to The Woman to "make a man," to 
remake personality. The twentieth-century resurgence of 
devotion to Mary is God's way of pulling the world away from 
the primacy of the economic to the primacy of the human, 
from the things to life and machines to men. The praise of 
the woman in the crowd who heard Our Lord preaching and 
exclaimed: "Blessed is the womb that bore Thee and the 
[158] breasts that nursed Thee" (Luke 11:27), was typically 
feminine. And the answer of Our Lord was equally significant: 
"Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and 
keep it." (Luke 11:28) This, then, is what devotion to Mary 
does in this troubled hour: it restores personality by inspiring 
it to keep the Word of God. 

By infusing the virtue of Purity into souls. A man teaches 
a woman pleasure; a woman teaches a man continence. Man 
is the raging torrent of the cascading river; woman is the 
bank which keeps it within limits. Pleasure is the bait God 
uses to induce creatures to fulfill their heavenly infused in- 
stincts - pleasure in eating, for the sake of the preservation 
of the individual - pleasure in mating, for the sake of the 
preservation of the species. But God puts a limit to each to 
prevent the riotous overflow. One is satiety, which comes 
from nature itself and limits the pleasure of eating; the other 
is the woman who rarely confuses the pleasure of mating 
with the sanctity of marriage. During the weakness of hu- 
man nature, the liberty of man can degenerate into license, 
infidelity, and promiscuity as the love of woman can decay 
into tyranny, possessiveness, and insane jealousy. 

Since the abandonment of the Christian concept of mar- 
riage, both man and woman have forgotten their mission. 
Purity has become identified with repression, instead of being 
seen as it really is - the reverence for preserving a mystery 
of creativeness until God sanctions the use of that power. 
While man is outgoing in his pleasure, womanly purity keeps 
hers inward, channeled or even self-possessed, as if a great 
secret had to be hugged to the heart. There is no conflict 
between purity and carnal pleasure in blessed unions, for 
desire, pleasure, and purity each has its place. 

[159] Since woman today has failed to restrain man, we must 
look to the Woman to restore purity. The Church proclaims 
two dogmas of purity for the Woman: one, the purity of soul 
in the Immaculate Conception, the other, the purity of body 
in the Assumption. Purity is not glorified as ignorance; for 
when the Virgin Birth was announced to Mary, she said, "I 
know not man." This meant not only that she was untaught by 
pleasures; it also implied that she had so brought her soul to 
focus on inwardness that she was a Virgin, not only through 
the absence of man, but through the Presence of God. No 
greater inspiration to purity has the world ever known than 
The Woman, whose own life was so pure that God chose 
her as His Mother. But she also understands human frailty 
and so is prepared to lift souls out of the mire into peace, as 
at the Cross she chose as her companion the converted sinner 
Magdalene. Through all the centuries, to those who marry to 
be loved, Mary teaches that they should marry to love. To the 
unwed, she bids them all keep the secret of purity until 
an Annunciation, when God will send them a partner; to 
those who, in carnal love, allow the body to swallow the soul, 
she bids that the soul envelop the body. To the twentieth cen- 
tury, with its Freud and sex, she bids man to be made again 
to the God-like image through herself as The Woman while 
she, in turn, with "traitorous trueness and loyal deceits" be- 
trays us to Christ Who in His turn delivers us to the Father, 
that God may be all in all. 


The Seven Laws of Love 

[160] The Blessed Mother is recorded as speaking only seven 
times in Sacred Scripture. These seven words are here used to 
illustrate the seven laws of love. 

1. Love Is a Choice. Every act of love is an affirmation, a 
preferment, a decision. But it is also a negation. "I love you" 
means that I do not love her. Because love is a choice, it 
means detachment from a previous mode of life, a breaking 
with old bonds. Hence the Old Testament law: "A man, there- 
fore, will leave his father and mother and will cling to his 
wife. . . ." (Gen. 2:24) Along with detachment, there is also 
a deep sense of attachment to the beloved. The desire in one 
is met by a response on the part of the other. Courting love 
never asks why one is loved. The only question love asks is, 
"How?" Love is never free from difficulties: "How shall we 
live? How can we support ourselves?" 

God loves man even in his sin. But He would not intrude 
upon human nature with His Love. So He woos one of the 
creatures to detach herself, by an act of her will from sinful 
humanity, and to attach herself to Him so intimately that 
she might give Him a human nature to begin the new humanity. 
The first woman made a choice which brought ruin; [161] the 
New Woman is asked to make a choice for man's restora- 
tion. But there was one difficulty standing in the way: "How 
shall this be, seeing I know not man?" But since Divine Love 
is doing the courting, Divine Love shall also supply the means 
of embodying Itself: He that is born of her will be conceived 
by the Spirit of God's Love. 

2. Choice Ends in Identification with the Beloved. All love 
craves unity, the supplying of the lack of the self at the store 
of the other. Once the will makes the choice, surrender fol- 
lows, for freedom is ours only to give away. "My will is mine 
to make it thine" is on the lips of every lover. Freedom exists 
for the sweet slavery of love. All love is passing from potency 
to act, from choice to possession, from desire to unity, from 
courtship to marriage. Since the very beginning, love was 
spoken of as making man and woman "two in one flesh." One 
soul passes into another soul, and the body follows the soul 
to such unity as it can achieve. The difference between prosti- 
tution and love is that in the former there is the offering of 
the body without the soul. True love demands that the will 
to love should precede the act of possession. 

After God had courted the soul of a creature, and asked her 
to supply Him with a human nature and when all difficulties 
of how her virginity could be preserved were cleared away, 
there came the great act of surrender. Fiat. "Be it done unto 
me . . ." - surrender, resignation, and the celebration of the 
Divine Nuptials. In another sense, there were now two in 
one flesh: the Divine and human natures of the Person of 
Christ lived in the womb of Mary, God and man made One. 
In no person in this world was there ever such unity of God 
and man as Mary experienced within her during the nine 
months in which she bore Him whom the Heavens could 
[162] not contain. Mary, who was already one with Him in mind, 
was now one with Him in Body, as Love reached its peak in 
mothering the wandering word. 

3. Love Requires a Constant De-egotization. It is easy for 
love to take the beloved for granted and to assume that what 
was freely offered for life needs no repurchasing. But love 
can be treated either as an antique that needs no care, or as 
a flower that needs pruning. Love could become so possessive 
that it would hardly be conscious of the rights of others: lest 
love so degenerate into a mutual exchange of egotisms, there 
must be a constant going out to others, an exteriorization, an 
increased searching for the formation of an "us." Love of 
God is inseparable from love of neighbor. Words of love must 
be translated into action, and they must go beyond the mere 
boundary of the home. The needs of neighbor may become so 
imperative that one may have to sacrifice one's own com- 
fort for another. Love that does not expand to neighbor dies 
of its own too-much. 

Mary obeys this third law of love, even in her pregnancy, 
by visiting a pregnant neighbor, an old woman who is already 
six months with child. From that day to this, no one who 
boasts of his love of God may claim exemption from the law 
to love his neighbor, too. Mary hastens - Maria festinans -
across the hills to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Mary is present 
at a birth at this Visitation, as she will later attend a marriage 
at Cana and a death on Calvary: the three major moments in 
the life of a neighbor. Now, no sooner does an angel visit her 
than she makes a visit to a woman in need. A woman is best 
helped by a woman, and the one woman who bears Love 
Divine within her casts such a spell over another woman with 
child that John the Baptist leaps with joy in her womb. The 
[163] bearing of Christ is inseparable from the service of Christ. 
God the Son had come to Mary not for her sake alone, but 
for the sake of the world. Love is social, or it ceases to be 

4. Love Is Inseparable from Joy. A woman's greatest joy is 
when she brings a child into the world. The father's joy is 
changing a woman into a mother. Love cannot endure with- 
out joys, although these are sometimes given as prepayments 
for later responsibilities. The joy of love goes out in two di- 
rections: one is horizontal, through the extension of love in 
the family; the other is vertical, a mounting to God with our 
thanks because He is the source of all love. The miser is de- 
voured by his gold, the saint by his God. 

In moments of ecstasy, lovers ask where their love will 
end. Will it run out as feeble drops of rain upon the parched 
sands of the desert without joy, or will it run like rivers to the 
sea, and back again unto God? Love must seek an explana- 
tion for its ecstasies and joys; it asks, "If the spark of love 
is so great, what must be the flame?" 

Where the ecstasy of love comes from God, it is only natural 
that its joy should break out into song, as it does in the Mag- 
nificat of Mary. Somehow Mary knows that her love will have 
a happy ending, even though there will be revolutions de- 
throning the mighty and unseating the proud. This Queen 
of Song now sings a different song from all other mothers. All 
mothers sing to their babes, but here is one mother who sings 
before the Babe is born. She says only a Fiat to an angel, 
she says nothing to Joseph, but she chants verse upon verse 
of a song to God, Who looked down on the humility of His 
handmaid. As the infant leaped in the womb of Elizabeth, so 
a song leaped to Mary's lips; for if a human heart can so thrill 
[164] to ecstasy, what joy did she know, who was in love with 
the Great Heart of God! 

5. Love Is Inseparable from Sorrow. Because love, which 
demands the eternal for satisfaction, is compassed by time, 
it always knows some inadequacy and discontent. Trials, be- 
reavements, and even the changes and rhythms of love itself 
prove a strain even to the most devoted lover. Even when love 
is most intense, it often throws the lover back upon himself, 
and he becomes conscious that, despite his desire to be one 
with the beloved, he is still distinct and separate. There is a 
limit to the total possession of another in his life. Every mar- 
riage promises what God alone can give. The saints have the 
Dark Night of the soul, but all lovers have the Dark Night of 
the body. 

If Mary is to feel the sorrow of love, she must feel the 
separation from the Beloved which comes during the three 
days' loss. Despite the will to be one with the Christ-love, 
there comes an estrangement, a separation, a change in moods 
as she asks: "Son, why hast thou done so to us?" "Knowest 
thou not that we have sought thee sorrowing?" The course 
of true love never runs smooth. Not even the most spiritual 
love is exempt from aridity, spiritual dryness, and a feeling 
that one has lost the Divine Presence. In humans the super- 
abundance of love sometimes destroys love, so that after a 
while love becomes a duty. In Divine Love the richness of 
Divinity and its superabundance creates a need, so that the 
absence of God, even for three days, causes the soul the great- 
est agony it can endure in this vale of tears. 

6. All Love, Before It Mounts to a Higher Level, Must Die 
to a Lower One. There are no plains in the kingdom of 
love. One is either going uphill or coming down. There is 
[165] no certainty of increasing ecstasy. If there is no purification, 
the fire of passion becomes the flicker of the sentiment, and 
finally only the ashes of habit. No one is thirsty at the border 
of a well. There is no such thing as loving too much; one either 
loves madly or too little. Some wonder, in their satiety, if love 
itself is a snare and a delusion. The truth is that the law of 
love must always operate: love that does not mount perishes. 
The joys and the ecstasies, unless they are freshened by sacri- 
fice, become mere friendships. Mediocrity is the penalty of all 
those who refuse to add sacrifice to their love, and thus to 
prepare it for a wider horizon and a higher peak. 

At the Marriage Feast of Cana, Mary had an opportunity 
to keep the love of her Son only to herself alone. She had the 
choice of continuing to be only the Mother of Jesus. But she 
knew that she must not keep that love for herself alone under 
the penalty of never enjoying love to the fullest. If she would 
save Jesus, she must lose Him. So she asked Him to work His 
first miracle, to begin His public life, and to anticipate the 
hour - and that means His Passion and Death. At that mo- 
ment, when she asked water to be changed into wine, she died 
to love of Jesus as her Son, and began to mount to that higher 
love for all whom Jesus would redeem when He died on the 
Cross. Cana was the death of the mother-Son relationship, 
and the beginning of that higher love involved in the Mother- 
humanity Christ-redeemed relationship. And by giving up 
her Son for the world, she eventually got Him back - even 
in the Assumption and the Coronation. 

7. The End of All Human Love Is Doing the Will of God. 
Even the most frivolous speak of love in terms of eternity. 
Love is timeless. As true love develops, there are at first two 
loves facing one another, seeking to possess one another. As 
[166] love progresses, the two loves, instead of seeking one an- 
other, seek an object outside both. They both develop a pas- 
sion for unity outside themselves, namely, in God. That is 
why, as a pure Christian love matures, a husband and spouse 
become more and more religious as time goes on. At first the 
happiness consisted in doing the will of the other; then the 
happiness consisted in doing the Will of God. True love 
is a religious act. If I love you as God wills that I love you, 
it is the highest expression of love. 

The last words of Mary that were spoken in Sacred Scrip- 
ture were the words of total abandonment to the Will of 
God. "Do whatever He tells you to do." As Dante 
said: "In His Will is our peace." Love has no other destiny 
than to obey Christ. Our wills are ours only to give away. The 
human heart is torn between a sense of emptiness and a need 
of being filled, like the waterpots of Cana. The emptiness 
comes from the fact that we are human. The power of filling 
belongs only to Him Who ordered the waterpots filled. Lest 
any heart should fail in being filled, Mary's last valedictory 
is: "Do whatever He tells you to do." The heart has 
a need of emptying and a need of being filled. The power 
of emptying is human - emptying in the love of others - the 
power of filling belongs only to God. Hence all perfect love 
must end on the note: "Not my will, but Thine be done, O 

Virginity and Love 

[167] Those who live by what Our Lord calls the "spirit of 
the world" are radically incapable of understanding anything 
done by others out of the spirit of Christ, Who said, "I have 
taken you out of the world, therefore the world will hate you." 
(John 15:19) When the world hears of a young girl entering 
the convent, it asks: "Was she disappointed in love?" The 
best answer to that inanity is: "Yes! But it was not a man's 
love that disappointed her, but the world's love." Actually, 
a young girl enters the convent because she has fallen in love: 
she is in love with Love Itself, which is God. The world can 
understand why one should love the sparks, but it cannot 
understand why one should love the Flame. It is comprehensi- 
ble that one should love the flesh that fades and dies, but in- 
comprehensible that one should love with "passionless pas- 
sion and wild tranquility" the Love which is Eternal. 

Anyone who knows the real philosophy of love should not 
be confused at such a noble loving. There are three stages 
of love, and few there are who ever arrive at the third stage. 
The first love is digestive love, the second is democratic love, 
and the third is sacrificial love. Digestive love centers in the 
person whom one loves. It assimilates persons, as the stom-
[168] ach assimilates food, using them as means to either its 
own pleasure or utility. Mere physical or sex love is digestive; 
it flatters the other person for his possession, as the farmer 
fattens livestock for the market. Its proffered gifts are only 
"baits," used as Trojan horses to win the other person over at 
the moment of its devouring. Those marriages which last only 
a few years, and end in divorce and remarriage, are founded 
on a love which is purely organic and glandular. Such love is 
a Moloch which devours its victims. If the partners survive 
digestion, it is only the carcass which is dismissed with the 
melancholy words: "We are no longer in love, but we are still 
good friends." 

Above digestive love is democratic love, in which there is a 
reciprocal devotion founded on natural honor, justice, com- 
mon likes, and a sense of decency. Here the other person is 
treated with becoming respect and dignity. This stage de- 
serves the name of love, which the first does not. 

Over and above this is what might be called sacral or 
sacrificial love, in which the lover sacrifices himself for the 
beloved, counts himself most free when he is a "slave" to the 
object of his love, and desires even to immolate self that the 
other might be glorified. Gustave Thibon beautifully describes 
these three loves. He calls them Indifference, Attachment, 

Indifference. As far as I am concerned, you do not exist. 

Attachment. You exist, but this existence is based on our 
reciprocal relations. You exist in the measure that I possess 
you, and the moment I dispossess you, you no longer exist. 

Detachment. You exist for me absolutely, quite independ- 
ent of my personal relations with you, and beyond any- 
thing you could do for me. I adore you as a reflection of the 
[169] Divinity which can never be taken from me. And I have 
no need to possess in order that you have existence for me. 

Consecrated virginity is the highest form of sacral or sacri- 
ficial love; it seeks nothing for itself, but only the will of the 
beloved. Pagans reverenced virginity, but they regarded it as 
almost the exclusive power of woman, for purity was seen 
only in its mechanical and physical effects. Christianity, on the 
contrary, looks upon virginity as a surrender of sex and of 
human love for God. 

The world makes the mistake of assuming that virginity is 
opposed to love, as poverty is opposed to wealth. Rather, 
virginity is related to love, as a university education is related 
to a grammar-school education. Virginity is the mountain 
peak of love, as marriage is its hill. Simply because virginity 
is often associated with asceticism and penance, it is thought 
to mean only the giving up of something. The true picture is 
that asceticism is only the fence around the garden of vir- 
ginity. A guard must always be stationed around the Crown 
Jewels of England, not because England loves soldiers, but 
because it needs them to protect the jewels. So, the more 
precious the love, the greater the precautions to guard it. 
Since no love is more precious than that of the soul in love 
with God, the soul must ever be on the watch against lions 
who would overrun its green pastures. The grating in a 
Carmelite monastery is not to keep the sisters in, but to keep 
the world out. 

Married love, too, has its moments of renouncement, 
whether they be dictated by nature or by the absence of the 
beloved. If nature imposes sacrifices and asceticism on mar- 
ried love by force, why should not grace freely suggest a vir- 
gin love? What one does out of the exigencies of time, the 
[170] other does out of the exigencies of eternity. Every act of 
love is an engagement for the future, but the virgin's vow centers 
more on eternity than on time. 

As virginity is not the opposite of love, neither is it the 
opposite of generation. The Christian blessing on virginity 
did not abrogate the order of Genesis to "increase and mul- 
tiply," for virginity, also, has its generation. Mary's consecra- 
tion of virginity was unique in that it resulted in a physical 
generation - the Word made flesh. But it also set the pattern 
of spiritual generation, for she begot the Christ-life. In like 
manner, virgin love must not be barren but, like Paul, must 
say: "I have begotten you as most dear children in Christ." 
When the woman in the crowd praised the Mother of Our 
Lord, He turned the praise to spiritual motherhood, and said 
that she who did the will of His Father in heaven was His 
mother. Relationship was here lifted from the level of the 
flesh to the spirit. To beget a body is blessed; to save a soul 
is more blessed, for such is the Father's Will. An idea thus 
can transform a vital function, not by condemning it to steril- 
ity, but by elevating it to a new fecundity of the spirit. There 
would, therefore, seem to be implied in all virginity the 
necessity of apostleship and the begetting of souls for Christ. 
God, Who hated the man who buried his talent in the ground, 
will certainly despise those who pledge themselves to be in 
love with Him, and yet show no new life - converts or souls 
saved through contemplation. Birth control, whether under- 
taken by husband and wife, or by a virgin dedicated to Christ, 
is reprehensible. On Judgment Day, God will ask all the mar- 
ried and all virgins the same question: "Where are your chil- 
dren?" "Where are the fruits of your love, the torches that 
should be kindled by the fires of your passion?" Virginity is 
[171] meant for generation as much as married love is; otherwise 
the Model-Virgin would not have been the Mother of Christ, 
giving an example to others to be the mothers and fathers 
of Christians. It is only love that can gain victory over love; 
only the soul in love with God can overcome the body-soul 
in love with another body-soul. 

There is an intrinsic relation between virginity and intelli- 
gence. There is no doubt that, as St. Paul says, "The flesh mili- 
tates against the spirit." The sex-mad individual is always 
under psychological necessity to "rationalize" his conduct 
which is so obviously contrary to the dictates of conscience. 
But this psychic tendency to "justify oneself" by making a 
creed to suit one's immoral behavior necessarily destroys rea- 
son. Furthermore, passion harms reason, even when it does 
not quote Freud to justify adultery. By its very nature, the 
concentration of vital energies in the centrality of the flesh 
necessarily implies a diminution of those energies in the higher 
realms of the spirit. In a more positive way, we may say that 
the purer the love, the less the disturbances of the mind. 
But since there can be no greater love than that of the soul 
in union with the Infinite, it follows that the mind free from 
anxieties and fear should have the greatest clearness of in- 
tellectual insights. The concentration on spiritual fecundity 
should by its very nature produce a high degree of intellec- 
tual fecundity. Here one speaks not of knowledge about 
things, for that depends on effort, but of judgment, counsel, 
decision which are the marks of a keen intelligence. One finds 
a suggestion of this in Mary, whose virginity is associated 
with wisdom in the highest degree, not only because she 
owned it in her new right, but also because she begot In- 
telligence Itself in her flesh. 

[172] If God in His Wisdom chose, in one woman, to unite 
Virginity and Motherhood, it must be that one is destined to 
illumine the other. Virginity illumines the homes of the mar- 
ried, as marriage pays back its debt with the oblation of vir- 
gins. Again, if marriage is ever to realize its dreams, it must 
proceed from the impulsion of instinct to those lofty ideals of 
love which virginity maintains. Married love that begins 
with the flesh guiding the spirit, under the inspiration of vir- 
ginity, is elevated to a point at which the spirit guides the 
body. Carnal love, which by its nature implies no inner puri- 
fication, would never mount above exhaustion and disgust, 
were there not that sacrificial oblation which virgins keep 
fresh in the world. And even when people do not live up to 
such ideals, they love to know that there are some who do. 
Though many married people tear up the photographs of 
what married love should be, it is a consolation to know that 
the sacrificial virgins are keeping the blueprints. 

As sex-love centers in the ego, there is hope for happiness 
as long as virgins still center their love in God. While fools 
love what is only an image of their own desire, the redeemers 
of humanity are loving Him, of Whom all love ought to be an 
image. When the sated hits bottom, and believes there is noth- 
ing more in the world worth loving, it is encouraging to know 
that Madonna-love can point to them and say: "You have hit 
only the bottom of your own egotism, but not the bottom 
of real love." 

The Virgin-love of Christianity teaches the disillusioned 
lovers that, instead of trying to make the infinite out of a suc- 
cession of finite loves, they should take the one finite love 
they have and, by selflessness and charity, capture the In- 
finite already hidden within it. Promiscuity may be regarded 
[173] as a misguided search for the Infinite, which is God. As 
the avaricious soul wants "more and more," hoping that by add- 
ing zeroes he can make the Infinite, so the carnal man wants 
another wife or another husband, vainly believing that what 
one lacks the other will supply. In vain does one change violins 
to prove the melody; in vain does one think that the infinity 
of desire with which all love begins is anything but God, with 
Whose love the virgin started and ended. 

No human being can live without dreams. He who dreams 
only of the human and the carnal must one day he prepared 
either to see his dream die, or else he must die to the dream. 
Nothing is more pitiable than to see the thrice-divorced read 
romances, hoping to discover on a printed page what they 
know they never found in life itself. The virgin dies to all 
dreams but one, and as time goes on her dream comes more 
and more true, until finally she wakes up to find herself in the 
arms of the Beloved. It has been said of Mary that she dreamed 
of Christ before she conceived Him in her body. When Chris- 
tianity called Him the "Word made flesh," it meant that He 
was the Dream come true, Love becoming the Beloved. In a 
noble married love, one must love the other as the messenger 
of a transcendent love, that is, as a dream and an ideal. The 
child that is born of that love is looked upon as the messenger 
from another world. But all this is a reflection of that virgin- 
love, modeled in Mary, which surrenders all earthly loves, 
until the Messenger is One sent by the Father, Whose name 
is Christ. This is not barrenness but fecundity - not the ab- 
sence of love, but its very ecstasy - not disappointment in 
love, but its sweet ecstasy. And from that hour, when 
a Virgin held Love Itself in her arms, all lovers will instinct-
ively peer through stable doors to catch a glance of what 
[174] all virgins envy most: falling in love with a First Love that 
is the Alpha and the Omega - Christ, the Son of the Living God. 

As breathing requires atmosphere, so love requires a 
Christosphere and a Mariasphere. That ideal love we see be- 
yond all creature love, and to which we instinctively turn 
when flesh-love fails, is the same ideal that God had in His 
Heart from all eternity - the Lady Whom He would call our 
Blessed "Mother." She is the one every man loves when he 
loves a woman - whether he knows it or not. She is what every 
woman wants to be, when she looks at herself. She is the 
woman every man marries in his ideal; she is hidden as an 
ideal in the discontent of every woman with the carnal ag- 
gressiveness of man; she is the secret desire every woman has 
to be honored and fostered. To know a woman in the hour 
of possession, a man must first have loved her in the exquisite 
hour of a dream. To be loved by man in the hour of posses- 
sion, a woman must first want to be loved, fostered, and hon- 
ored as an ideal. Beyond all human love is another love; that 
"other" is the image of the possible. It is that "possible" that 
every man and woman love when they love one another. That 
"possible" becomes real in the blueprint Love of Him God 
loved before the world was made, and in that other love 
which we all love because she brings Christ to us and brings 
us to Christ: Mary, the Immaculate Virgin, the Mother of 

Equity and Equality 

[175] The two basic errors of both Communism and Historical 
Liberalism on the subject of women are: (1) that women 
were never emancipated until modern times, since religion 
particularly kept them in servitude; (2) that equality means 
the right of a woman to do a man's work. 

It is not true that women began to be emancipated in 
modern times and in proportion to the decline of religion. 
Woman's subjection began in the seventeenth century, with 
the breakup of Christendom, and took on a positive form at 
the time of the Industrial Revolution. Under the Christian 
civilization women enjoyed rights, privileges, honors, and 
dignities which have since been swallowed up by the ma- 
chine age. No one has better dissipated the false idea than 
Mary Beard in her scholarly work: Woman as Force in His- 
tory. She points out that, of eighty-five guilds in England 
during the Middle Ages, seventy-two had women members 
on an equal basis with men, even in such professions as bar- 
bers and sailors. They were probably as outspoken as men, 
for one of the rules of the guilds was that "the sistern as 
well as the brethren" may not engage in disorderly or con- 
tumacious debates. In Paris, there were fifteen guilds reserved 
[176] exclusively for women, while eighty of the Parisian guilds 
were mixed. Nothing is more erroneous historically than the 
belief that it was our modern age which recognized women 
in the professions. The records of these Christian times reveal 
the names of thousands upon thousands of women who in- 
fluenced society and whose names are now enrolled in the 
catalogue of saints - Catherine of Siena alone having left 
eleven large volumes of her writings. Up to the seventeenth 
century in England, women engaged in business, and per- 
haps even more so than today; in fact, so many wives were in 
business that it was provided by law that the husbands should 
not be responsible for their debts. Between 1553 and 1640, 
ten per cent of the publishing in England was done by women. 
Because the homes had their own weaving, cooking, and laun- 
dry, it has been estimated that women in pre-industrial days 
were producing half the goods required by society. In the 
Middle Ages women were as well-educated as men, and it 
was not until the seventeenth century that women were 
barred from education. Then, at the time of the Industrial 
Revolution, all the activities and freedom of women were 
curtailed, as the machine took over the business of produc- 
tion and men moved into the factory. Then came a loss of 
legal rights by women, which reached its fullness in Black- 
stone, who pronounced woman's "civil death" in law. 

As these disabilities continued, woman felt the loss of her 
freedom, and rightly so, because she felt she had been hurt 
by man and robbed of her legal rights; and she fell into the 
error of believing that she ought to proclaim herself equal 
with men, forgetful that a certain superiority was already hers 
because of her functional difference from man. Equality then 
came to mean, negatively, the destruction of all privileges 
[177] enjoyed by specific persons or classes, and, positively, 
absolute and unconditioned sex equality with men. These ideas 
were incorporated into the first resolution for sex equality 
passed in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848: "Resolved that 
woman is man's equal, was intended to be so by the Creator, 
and the highest good of the race demands that she be recog- 
nized as such." 

This brings us to the second error in the bourgeois-capital- 
istic theory of women, namely, the failure to make a distinc- 
tion between mathematical and proportional equality. Mathe- 
matical equality implies exactness of remuneration, for ex- 
ample, that two men who work at the same job at the same 
factory should receive equal pay. Proportional equality means 
that each should receive this pay according to his function. 
In a family, for example, all children should be cared for by 
the parents, but this does not mean that, because sixteen-year- 
old Mary gets an evening gown with an organdy trim, the 
parents should give seventeen-year-old Johnnie the same 
thing. Women, in seeking to regain some of the rights and 
privileges they had in Christian civilization, thought of equal- 
ity in mathematical terms or in terms of sex. Feeling them- 
selves overcome by a monster called "man," they identified 
freedom and equality with the right to do a man's job. All 
the psychological, social, and other advantages which were 
peculiar to women were ignored until the inanities of the 
bourgeois world reached their climax in Communism, under 
which a woman is emancipated the moment she goes to work 
in a mine. The result has been that woman's imitation of 
man and her flight from motherhood has developed neuroses 
and psychoses which have reached alarming proportions. The 
Christian civilization never stressed equality in a mathematical 
[178] sense, but only in the proportional sense, for equality 
is wrong when it reduces the woman to a poor imitation of a 
man. Once woman became man's mathematical equal, he no 
longer gave her a seat in a bus, and no longer took off his 
hat in an elevator. (In a New York subway recently a man 
gave a woman his seat and she fainted. When she revived, 
she thanked him, and he fainted.) 

Modern woman has been made equal with man, but she 
has not been made happy. She has been "emancipated," like 
a pendulum removed from a clock and now no longer free to 
swing, or like a flower which has been emancipated from its 
roots. She has been cheapened in her search for mathematical 
equality in two ways: by becoming a victim to man and a 
victim to the machine. She became a victim to man by be- 
coming only the instrument of his pleasure and ministering 
to his needs in a sterile exchange of egotisms. She became a 
victim to the machine by subordinating the creative princi- 
ple of life to the production of nonliving things, which is the 
essence of Communism. 

This is not a condemnation of a professional woman, be- 
cause the important question is not whether a woman finds 
favor in the eyes of a man, but whether she can satisfy the 
basic instincts of womanhood. The problem of a woman is 
whether certain God-given qualities, which are specifically 
hers, are given adequate and full expression. These qualities 
are principally devotion, sacrifice, and love. They need not 
necessarily be expressed in a family, nor even in a convent. 
They can find an outlet in the social world, in the care of the 
sick, the poor, the ignorant in the seven corporal works of 
mercy. It is sometimes said that the professional woman is 
hard. This may in a few instances be true, but if so it is not 
[179] because she is in a profession, but because she has 
alienated her profession from contact with human beings in a 
way to satisfy the deeper cravings of her heart. It may very well 
be that the revolt against morality and the exaltation of sensu- 
ous pleasure as the purpose of life are due to the loss of the 
spiritual fulfillment of existence. Having been frustrated and 
disillusioned, such souls first become bored, then cynical, and 
finally, suicidal. 

The solution lies in a return to the Christian concept, wherein 
stress is placed not on equality but on equity. Equality is 
law. It is mathematical, abstract, universal, indifferent to 
conditions, circumstances, and differences. Equity is love, 
mercy, understanding, sympathy - it allows the consideration 
of details, appeals, and even departures from fixed rules 
which the law has not yet embraced. In particular, it is the 
application of law to an individual person. Equity places its 
reliance on moral principles and is guided by an understand- 
ing of the motives of individual families which fall outside 
the scope of the rigors of law. In the old English law of 
Christian days the subjects, in petitioning the court for ex- 
traordinary privileges, asked them "for the love of God and 
in the way of charity." For that reason, the heads of courts 
of equity were the clergy, who drew their decisions from 
Canon Law, and in vain did civil lawyers, with their exact pre- 
scriptions, argue against their opinions. The iron ring out- 
side a Cathedral door, which a pursued criminal might grasp, 
gave him what is known as the "right of sanctuary" and while 
giving him immunity from the prescriptions of civil law, it 
made him subject to the more merciful law of the Church. 

Applying this distinction to women, it is clear that equity 
rather than equality should be the basis of all the feminine 
[180] claims. Equity goes beyond equality by claiming superiority 
in certain aspects of life. Equity is the perfection of equality, 
not its substitute. It has the advantages of recognizing the 
specific difference between man and woman, which equality 
does not have. As a matter of fact, men and women are not 
equal in sex; they are quite unequal, and it is only because 
they are unequal that they complement one another. Each 
has a superiority of function. Man and woman are equal, 
inasmuch as they have the same rights and liberties, the same 
final goal of life, and the same redemption by the Blood of 
Our Divine Saviour but they are different in function, like 
the lock and the key. 

One of the greatest of the Old Testament stories reveals 
this difference. While the Jews were under Persian captivity, 
Haman, the prime minister of King Ahasuerus, asked his master 
to slay the Jews because they obeyed the law of God rather 
than the Persian law. When the order went out that the Jews 
were to be massacred, Esther was asked to approach the 
King to plead for her people. But there was a law that no 
one should enter the King's presence under the penalty 
of death, unless the King extended his sceptre as a per- 
mission to approach the throne. That was the law. But Esther 
said: "I will go in to the King, against the law, not being 
called, and expose myself to death and to danger." (Esther 
4:16) Esther fasted and prayed and then approached the 
throne. Would the sceptre be lowered? The King held out 
the golden sceptre, and Esther drew near and kissed the top 
of it, and the King said to her: "What do you want, Queen 
Esther? What is your request?" (Esther 5:3) 

This story has been interpreted through the Christian ages 
as meaning that God will reserve to Himself the reign of 
[181] justice and law, but to Mary, His Mother, will be given the 
reign of mercy. During the Christian ages, Our Blessed Mother 
bore a title which has since been forgotten, namely, Our Lady 
of Equity. Henry Adams describes the Lady of Equity in the 
Cathedral of Chartres. Stretching through the nave of the 
Church are two sets of priceless stained-glass windows, the one 
given by Blanche of Castile, the other by her enemy, Pierre 
de Dreux, which seem to "carry on war across the very heart 
of the cathedral." Over the main altar, however, sits the Vir- 
gin Mary, the Lady of Equity, with the Holy Child on her 
knees, presiding over the courts, listening serenely to pleas 
for mercy in behalf of sinners. As Mary Beard beautifully 
put it: "The Virgin signified to the people moral, human or 
humane power, as against the stern mandates of God's law." 
And we might add, this is the woman's special glory - mercy, 
pity, understanding, and the intuition of human needs. When 
women step down from the role of the Lady of Equity and 
her prototype Esther and insist only on equality, they lose 
their greatest opportunity to change the world. Law has 
broken down today. Jurists no longer believe in a Divine Judge 
behind the law. Obligations are no longer sacred. Even peace 
is based upon the power of great nations, rather than on the 
Justice of God. The choice before women in this day of 
the collapse of justice is whether to equate themselves with 
men in rigid exactness, or to rally to Equity, to mercy and love, 
giving to a cruel and lawless world something that equality 
can never give. 

If women, in the full consciousness of their creativeness, 
say to the world: "It takes us twenty years to make a man, 
and we rebel against every generation snuffing out that man- 
hood in war," such an attitude will do more for the peace of
[182] the world than all the covenants and pacts. Where there is 
equality there is justice, but there is no love. If man is the 
equal of woman, then she has rights but no heart ever lived 
only on rights. All love demands inequality or superiority. 
The lover is always on his knees; the beloved must always be 
on a pedestal. Whether it be man or woman, the one must 
always consider himself or herself as undeserving of the other. 
Even God humbled Himself in His Love to win man, saying 
He "came not to be served, but to serve." And man, in his turn, 
approaches that loving Saviour in Communion with the words: 
"Lord, I am not worthy." 

As we said, professional careers do not of themselves de- 
feminize women; otherwise the Church would not have raised 
political women to sainthood, as in the cases of St. Elizabeth 
and St. Clotilde. The unalterable fact is that no woman is 
happy unless she has someone for whom she can sacrifice her- 
self - not in a servile way, but in the way of love. Added to 
the devotedness is her love of creativeness. A man is afraid 
of dying, but a woman is afraid of not living. Life to a man 
is personal; life to a woman is otherness. She thinks less in 
terms of perpetuation of self and more in terms of perpetua- 
tion of others - so much so, that in her devotedness she is 
willing to sacrifice herself for others. To the extent that a 
career gives her no opportunity for either, she becomes  
defeminized. If these qualities cannot be given an outlet 
in a home and a family, they must nevertheless find other sub- 
stitutions in works of charity, in the defense of virtuous liv- 
ing, and in the defense of right, as other Claudias enlighten 
their political husbands. Then woman's work as a money 
earner becomes a mere prelude and a condition for the dis- 
play of equity, which is her greatest glory. 

[183] The level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. 
This is because there is a basic difference between knowing 
and loving. In knowing something, we bring it down to the 
level of our understanding. An abstract principle of physics 
can be understood by an ordinary mind only by examples. 
But in loving, we always go up to meet the demand of the 
one loved. If we love music, we submit to its laws and dis- 
ciplines. When man loves woman, it follows that the nobler 
the woman, the nobler the love; the higher the demands 
made by the woman, the more worthy a man must be. That 
is why woman is the measure of the level of our civilization. 
It is for our age to decide whether woman shall claim equality 
in sex and the right to work at the same lathe with men, or 
whether she will claim equity and give to the world that 
which no man can give. In these pagan days, when women 
want only to be equal with men, they have lost respect. In 
Christian days, when men were strongest, woman was most 
respected. As the author of Mont St. Michel and Chartres 
puts it; "The twelfth and thirteenth centuries were a period 
when men were at their strongest; never before or since have 
they shown equal energy in such varied directions, or such 
intelligence in the direction of their energy; yet these marvels 
of history - these Plantagenets; these Scholastic philosophers; 
these architects of Rheims and Amiens; these Innocents, and 
Robin Hoods, and Marco Polos; these crusaders who planted 
their enormous fortresses all over the Levant; these monks 
who made the wastes and barrens yield harvests all, with- 
out apparent exception, bowed down before the woman."  
Explain it who will! Without Mary, man has no hope except 
in atheism, and for atheism the world was not ready. Hemmed 
back on that side, men rushed like sheep to escape the butcher. 
[184] and were driven to Mary only too happy in finding protec- 
tion and hope in a being who could understand the language 
they talked, and the excuses they had to offer. Thus, society 
invested in her care nearly its whole capital, spiritual, ar- 
tistic, intellectual, and economical, even to the bulk of its 
real and personal estate. As Abelard said of her: "After the 
Trinity you are our only hope . . . you are placed there as 
our advocate; all of us who fear the wrath of the Judge, fly 
to the Judge's Mother who is logically compelled to intercede 
for us and stands in the place of a mother to the guilty." 

Christianity does not ask the modern woman to be ex- 
clusively a Martha or a Mary; the choice is not between a 
professional career and contemplation, for the Church reads 
the Gospel of Martha and Mary for Our Lady to symbolize 
that she combines both the speculative and the practical, the 
serving of the Lord and the sitting at His Feet. If woman 
wants to be a revolutionist, then The Woman is her guide, 
for she sang the most revolutionary song ever written - the 
Magnificat, the burden of which was the abolition of princi- 
palities and powers, and the exaltation of the humble. She 
breaks the shell of woman's isolation from the world and puts 
woman back into the wide ocean of humanity. She, who is 
the Cosmopolitan Woman, gives us the Cosmopolitan Man, 
for which giving all generations shall call her blessed. 

She was the inspiration to womanhood, not because she 
claimed there was equality in sex (peculiarly enough, this 
was the one equality she ignored), but because of a transcend- 
ence in function which made her superior to a man, inasmuch 
as she could encompass a man, as Isaias foretold. Great men 
we need, like Paul with a two-edged sword to cut away the 
bonds that tie down the energies of the world - and men 
[185] like Peter, who will let the broad stroke of their challenge 
ring out on the shield of the world's hypocrisy - great men 
like John who, with a loud voice, will arouse the world from 
the sleek dream of unheroic repose. But we need women still 
more; women like Mary of Cleophas, who will raise sons to 
lift up white hosts to a Heavenly Father; women like Mag- 
dalene, who will take hold of the tangled threads of a seem- 
ingly wrecked and ruined life and weave out of them the 
beautiful tapestry of saintliness and holiness; and women, 
above all, like Mary, the Lady of Equity, who will leave the 
lights and glamours of the world for the shades and shadows 
of the Cross, where saints are made. When women of this 
kind return to save the world with equity, then we shall toast 
them, we shall salute them, not as "the modern woman, once 
our superior and now our equal," but as the Christian woman - 
closest to the Cross on Good Friday, and first at the Tomb 
on Easter morn. 

The Madonna of the World 

[186] From the Bantu tribes of Congo Africa comes this story. 
A Bantu mother believed that the evil spirits were disturbing 
her child, although the child actually had only whooping 
cough. It never entered the mind of the woman to call on the 
name of God although the Bantus had a name for God, 
Nzakomiba. God was utterly foreign to these people and was 
presumed to be totally disinterested in human woes. Their 
big problem was how to avoid evil spirits. This is the basic 
characteristic of missionary lands; pagan peoples are more 
concerned with pacifying devils than with loving God. 

The Missionary Sister, who is a doctor, and who treated 
and cured the child, tried in vain to convince the woman 
that God is love. Her answer was an entirely different word: 
Eefee. The Missionary Sister then said: "But God's love is 
like that: Nzakomb Acok-Eefee. God has the same feeling 
of love for us that a mother has for her children." In other 
words, mother-love is the key to God's love. St. Augustine, 
who was so devoted to his mother, St. Monica, must have 
had something like this in mind when he said: "Give me a 
man who has loved and I will tell him what God is." 

That brings up the question: Can religion do without 
motherhood? It certainly does not do without fatherhood, for 
[187] one of the most accurate descriptions of God is that of 
the Giver and Provider of good things. But since motherhood 
is as necessary as fatherhood in the natural order - perhaps 
even more so - shall the devoted religious heart be without a 
woman to love? In the animal kingdom, mothers are the fight- 
ers for their offspring, whom paternity often abandons. On 
the human level, life would indeed be dull if through every 
beat of its existence one could not look back in gratitude to 
a mother who threw open the portals of life to give life, and 
then sustained it by the one great, irreplaceable love of each 
child's universe. 

A wife is essentially a creature of time, for even while she 
lives she can become a widow; but a mother is outside time. 
She dies, but she is still a mother. She is the image of the 
eternal in time, the shadow of the infinite on the finite. Cen- 
turies and civilizations dissolve, but the mother is the giver of 
life. Man works on this generation: a mother on the next. 
A man uses his life; a mother renews it. 

The mother, too, is the preserver of equity in the world, 
as man is the guardian of justice. But justice would degen- 
erate into cruelty if it were not tempered by that merciful 
appeal to excusing circumstances which only a mother can 
make. As man preserves law, so woman preserves equity or 
that spirit of kindness, gentleness, and sympathy, which 
tempers the rigors of justice. Vergil opened his great poem 
by singing of "arms and a man" not of women. When women 
are reduced to bear arms, they lose that specific quality of 
femininity; then equity and mercy vanish from the earth. 

Culture derives from woman - for had she not taught her 
children to talk, the great spiritual values of the world would not
[188] have passed from generation to generation. After nourish- 
ing the substance of the body to which she gave birth, she 
then nourishes the child with the substance of her mind. As 
guardian of the values of the spirit, as protectress of the 
morality of the young, she preserves culture which deals with 
purposes and ends, while man upholds civilization which 
deals only with means. 

It is inconceivable that such love should be without a 
prototype Mother. When one sees tens of thousands of re- 
prints of Murillo's "Immaculate Conception" one knows that 
there had to be the model portrait from which the copies 
derived their impression. If fatherhood has its prototype in 
the Heavenly Father, Who is the giver of all gifts, then cer- 
tainly such a beautiful thing as motherhood shall not be 
without some original Mother, whose traits of loveliness 
every mother copies in varying degrees. The respect shown 
to woman looks to an ideal beyond each woman. As an 
ancient Chinese legend puts it: "If you speak to a woman, do 
it in pureness of heart. Say to yourself: 'Placed in this sinful 
world, let me be pure as the spotless lily, unsoiled by the 
mire in which it grows.' Is she old? Regard her as your mother. 
Is she honorable? Regard her as your sister. Is she of small 
account? As your younger sister. Is she a child? Then treat 
her with reverence and politeness." 

Why did all pre-Christian people paint, sculpture, lyricize, 
and dream of an ideal woman, if they did not really believe 
that such a one ought to be? By making her mythical and 
legendary, they surrounded her with a mystery which took 
her out of the realm of time and made her more heavenly 
than earthly. In all people is a longing of the heart for some- 
[189] thing motherly and divine, an ideal from which all mother- 
hood descends like the rays from the sun. 

The full hope of Israel has been realized in the coming of 
the Messiah; but the full hope of the Gentiles has not yet 
been fulfilled. The prophecy of Daniel that Christ would be 
the Expectatio Gentium is so far fulfilled only in part. As 
Jerusalem had the hour of its visitation and knew it not, so 
every peoples and race and nation has its appointed hour of 
grace. Just as God in His Providence hid the continent of 
America from the Old World for almost 1500 years after His 
birth, and then allowed the veil which hung before it to be 
pierced by the ships of Columbus, so He has kept a veil be- 
fore many nations of the East so that in this hour His ships 
of grace might finally pierce its veil and reveal, in this late 
hour, the undying strength of the Incarnation of the Son of 
God. The present crisis of the world is the opening of the 
East to the potency of the Gospel of Christ. The practical 
West, having lost faith in the Incarnation, has begun to be- 
lieve that man does everything and God does nothing; the 
impractical contemplative East, which has believed that God 
does everything and man does nothing, is soon to have its day 
of discovery that man can do all things in the God Who 
strengthens him. 

But it is impossible to conceive that the East will have its 
own peculiar advent or coming of Christ without the same 
preparation that Israel once had in Mary. As there would 
have been no advent of Christ in the flesh in His first com- 
ing without Mary, so there can be no coming of Christ in spirit 
among the Gentiles without Mary's again preparing the way. 
As she was the instrument for the fulfillment of the hope of 
[190] Israel, so she is the instrument for the fulfillment of the hope 
of the pagans. Her role is to prepare for Jesus. This she did 
physically by giving Him a body which could conquer death, 
by giving Him hands with which He could bless children and 
feet with which He could seek out the lost sheep. But as she 
prepared His body, so she now prepares souls for His coming. 
As she was in Israel before Christ was born, so she is in China, 
Japan, and Oceania before Christ is born. She precedes Jesus 
not ontologically [in existence], but physically, in Israel, as His 
Mother, and spiritually, among the Gentiles, as the one who 
readies His tabernacle among men. There are not many who can 
say "Our Father" in the strict sense of the term, for that im- 
plies that we are partakers in the Divine Nature and brothers 
with Christ. God is not Our Father by the mere fact that we 
are creatures; He is only our Creator. Fatherhood comes only 
by sharing in His nature through sanctifying grace. A liturgi- 
cal manifestation of this great truth is found in the way in 
which the Our Father is recited in most of the ceremonies 
of the Church. It is recited aloud in the Mass, because there 
it is assumed that all present are already made sons of God 
in Baptism. But where the ceremony is one in which sanctify- 
ing grace cannot be presumed among those present, the 
Church recites the Our Father silently. 

Thus pagans, who have not yet been baptized either by 
water or desire, cannot say the Our Father, but they can say 
the Hail Mary. As there is a grace that prepares for grace, 
so there is in all the pagan lands of the world the influence of 
Mary, preparing for Christ. She is the spiritual "Trojan horse" 
preparing for the assault of love by Her Divine Son, the "Fifth 
Column" working within the Gentiles, storming their cities 
from within, even when their Wise Men know it not, and 
[191] teaching muted tongues to sing her Magnificat before they 
have known Her Son. 

The David of old spoke of Her as preparing for Israel the 
first advent of Christ: 

The queen stood on thy right hand, in gilded clothing; surrounded 
with variety. 

Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thy ear: and forget thy 
people and thy father's house. 

And the king shall greatly desire thy beauty; for He is the Lord 
thy God, and Him they shall adore. 

And the daughters of Tyre with gifts, even all the rich among the 
people, shall entreat thy countenance. 

All the glory of the king's daughter is within in golden borders, 
clothed round about with varieties. 

After her shall virgins be brought to the king: her neighbors shall 
be brought to thee. 

They shall be brought with gladness and rejoicing: they shall be 
brought into the temple of the king. 

From an unexpected quarter comes an equally poetic 
tribute to "The Veiled Glory of this Lampless Universe," in 
the words of Percy Bysshe Shelley: 

Seraph of heaven! too gentle to be human, 
Veiling beneath that radiant form of Woman 
All that is insupportable in thee 
Of light, and love, and immortality! 
Sweet Benediction in the eternal Curse! 
Veiled glory of this lampless Universe! 
Thou Moon beyond the clouds! Thou living Worm 
Among the Dead! Thou Star above the Storm! 
[192] Thou Wonder, and thou Beauty, and thou Terror! 
Thou Harmony of Nature's art! thou Mirror 
In whom, as in the splendour of the Sun, 
All shapes look glorious which thou gazest on! 
Ay, even the dim words which obscure thee now 
Flash, lightning-like, with unaccustomed glow; 
I pray thee that thou blot from this sad song 
All of its much mortality and wrong, 
With those clear drops, which start like sacred dew 
From the twin lights thy sweet soul darkens through, 
Weeping, till sorrow becomes ecstasy: 
Then smile on it, so that it may not die. 

There is a beautiful legend of Kwan-yin, the Chinese God- 
dess of Mercy, to whom so many pleadings have gone from 
Chinese lips. According to legend, this princess lived in China 
hundreds of years before Christ was born. Her father, the 
King, wished her to marry. But, resolving upon a life of 
virginity, she took refuge in a convent. Her angry father 
burned the convent and forced her to return to his palace. 
Given the alternative of death or marriage, she insisted on 
her vow of virginity, and so her father strangled her. Her 
body was brought to hell by a tiger. It was there she won 
the title "Goddess of Mercy." Her intercession for mercy was 
so great, and she so softened the hard hearts of hell, that the 
very devils ordered her to leave. They were afraid she would 
empty hell. She then returned to the island of Pluto off the 
coast of Chekiang where, even to this day, pilgrims travel 
to her shrine. The Chinese have at times pictured her as wear- 
ing on her head the image of God, to Whose heaven she 
brings the faithful, although she herself refuses to enter 
heaven, so long as there is a single soul excluded. 

[193]Western civilization, too, has its ideals. Homer, a thou- 
sand years before Christ, threw into the stream of history the 
mystery of a woman faithful in sorrow and loneliness. While 
her husband, Ulysses, was away on his travels, Penelope was 
courted by many suitors. She told them she would marry one 
of them when she finished weaving a garment. But each 
night she undid the stitches she had put in it during the day, 
and thus she remained faithful until her husband returned. 
No one who sang the song of Homer could understand why 
he glorified this sorrowful mother, as they could not under- 
stand why, in another poem, he glorified a defeated hero. It 
was not for a thousand years, until the day of a defeated hero 
on a Cross and a sorrowful Mother beneath it, that the world 
understood the mysteries of Homer. 

The instinct of all men to look for a mother in their religion 
is conspicuous, even in modern times, among non-Christian 
peoples. Our missionaries report the most extraordinary re- 
action of these peoples as the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of 
Fatima was carried through the East. At the edge of Nepal, 
three hundred Catholics were joined by three thousand 
Hindus and Moslems, as four elephants carried the statue to 
the little Church for Rosary and Benediction. At Rajkot, 
which has hardly any faithful, unbelieving ministers of state 
and high-ranking government officials came to pay venera- 
tion. The Mayor of Nadiad read a speech of welcome and 
stressed how proud he was to welcome the statue. For twelve 
hours the crowds, almost exclusively non-Christian, passed 
through the Church as Masses continued from two o'clock 
in the morning until nine-thirty. As one old Indian put it: 
"She has shown us that your religion is sincere; it is not like 
ours. Your religion is a religion of love; ours is one of fear." 

[194] At Patna, the Brahman Hindu governor of the province 
visited the Church and prayed before the statue of Our Lady. 
In one tiny village of Kesra Mec, more than 24,000 people 
came to see the statue. The Rajah sent two hundred and fifty 
rupees and his wife sent a petition of prayers. Greetings were 
read in six languages at Hy Derabid Sind. At Karachi an ex- 
ception was made by the Moslems to favor her; whenever the 
Christians there hold a procession, they are obliged to cease 
praying whenever they pass a mosque. But on this occasion 
they were permitted by the Moslems to pray before any 
mosque along their way. 

In Africa, the Mother plays an important role in tribal 
justice. In Northwestern Uganda, where the White Fathers 
labor with astounding zeal and success, every major decision, 
even the celebration of the coronation of the King, must be 
submitted to the Queen Mother. Anything she disapproves 
is put aside; her judgment is final. This is based on the as- 
sumption that she knows her son: she knows what will please 
or displease him. When the Queen Mother comes to the 
palace of her son, the King, she rules in his stead. One of 
the reasons why there were not two more martyrs among the 
famous martyrs of Uganda in Africa is because the pagan 
Queen Mother interceded for them. When the son becomes 
King, the son must sit on her lap before leaving for the cere- 
mony, as if to bear witness to the fact that he is her child. 
The Queen Mother of the Batusti people in Rwanda is so in- 
fluential among her people that the colonial government tries 
to keep her at a distance from her son, King Mutari II; both 
are converts to the faith, 

India, too, has had its history in which woman played her 
role. Its peoples are descended from the Dravidians, the 
[195] early barbaric tribes who intermingled with Aryan invaders 
about 1500 years before Christ. In the Dravidic hymns, vir- 
gins, like the Durgas and Kalis, were venerated. Hinduism be- 
came polytheistic, and a multiplicity of gods were adored; 
among the Hindus the virgins were almost simultaneously 
symbols of sweetness and terror, a combination which is not 
too difficult to understand. There is sweetness where there is 
love; there is also fear and terror, because that love is for the 
highest alone and is intolerant of all that surrenders to less 
than divinity. 

Because of the want of authority and also because of the 
tolerant Pantheism in religion in India, the feminine principle 
degenerated into something that seemed stupid to the West- 
ern mind, namely, the veneration of the Sacred Cow. Even in 
this decay of the feminine principle, there is to be detected 
a grain of truth. The cow to the Hindu fulfills many func- 
tions. Religiously, she is the symbol of the best gift that one 
can give to the Brahmans; to kill a cow is one of the Hindu's 
worst sins and can rarely be atoned by penance and purifica- 
tion. To the prince and peasant alike, the cow is his holy 
mother. He would even have the cow present when he dies, 
so that he may hold her tail as he breathes his last. Looking 
back on his life, he is indebted to her for her milk and butter; 
for his warmth, since it was her dung that was used as fuel, 
and her dung that coated the walls of his dwelling; and for 
his sustenance, since it was the cow, again, that pulled his 
cart and plow. 

As one of the learned Hindu members said in the Legis- 
lative Assembly; "Call it prejudice, call it passion, call it the 
height of religion, but this is an undoubted fact, that in the 
Hindu mind nothing is so deep-rooted as the sanctity of the 
[196] cow." Though the Western world makes fun of this symbol 
of religion, it is nevertheless a kind of glorification of mother- 
hood and femininity in religion. When the Hindus come to a 
knowledge of how much the feminine principle in religion 
actually prepared for Christianity, they will reclaim the cow 
as the symbol of the feminine, as the Jews use the lily and the 
dove and the ray of light. In one of the beautiful paintings 
of the Nativity by Alfred Thomas of Madras, India, a Ma- 
donna Mother is pictured in her saffron sari as she sits cross- 
legged upon the earth. There is a straw roof over her head, 
supported from a growing tree trunk to which the Sacred 
Cow is tethered. Other nations of the earth have used the 
lion and the eagle as the symbols of their ideals; the Hindu 
people have taken the cow as the symbol of their religion, 
not fully understanding its meaning until Christianity gives 
them the true feminine principle: the Mother of God. If a 
lamb can be used by the Holy Spirit as the symbol of Christ, 
Who sacrificed Himself for the world, then one is wrong to 
frown upon the Indian for taking, as the symbol of his faith, 
an animal who gave him all that he needed for his life. 

Japan, too, has its feminine principle of religion. For cen- 
turies, the Goddess of Mercy called Kwanon has been ven- 
erated. It is interesting that the Buddhists, who already know 
this Goddess of Mercy, and who have come to learn of the 
Blessed Mother, have seen the first as the preparation for the 
second. Becoming Christian, there is no need for such Bud- 
dhists to turn their back on Kwanon as evil; rather, they 
accept her as the far-off foreshadowing of the woman who 
was not a Goddess, but the Mother of Mercy Itself. Very be- 
comingly, the Japanese artist Takahira Toda, who came from 
a family of Buddhist priests, became a member of Christ's 
[197] Mystical Body after seeing the similarity between Kwanon 
and the Virgin Mary. In his picture "The Visitation of Mary," 
he reveals the typical Japanese Virgin, demure and solitary, 
who has just felt within herself the full meaning of the words 
she pronounced to the angel, "Be it done unto me according 
to Thy word." A painting of the Nativity by the Japanese 
artist, Teresa Kimiko Koseki, pictures the babyhood of Our 
Lord, and here only one characteristic distinguishes the Japa- 
nese Madonna from the countless other mothers of Japan 
and that is the halo of light above her head. In a very ex- 
traordinary painting by Luke Hasegawa, the Blessed Mother 
appears standing, surrounded by a wire fence which may 
either signify a fenced-in missionary compound or, per- 
haps, a home, where motherhood is best understood. From 
this enclosure the Madonna, towering almost as high as the 
mountains in the background, looks down with affection upon 
the city and the harbor and the world of commerce not yet 
conscious, perhaps, that she is the true Kwanon for whom 
the Japanese have been longing for centuries. 

Wherever the people are primitive, in the right sense of 
the term, there is devotion to motherhood. The so-called 
"Dark Continent of Africa" has been close to nature and, 
therefore, to birth; when Christianity began to reveal the 
fullness of the mystery of birth and life, Africa interpreted 
the Madonna and the Child in terms of its own native cul- 
ture. Mary, who had predicted that all generations would 
call her blessed, must have had it in mind that one day there 
would be a literal fulfillment of the words that are used of 
her in the liturgy: Nigra sum sed formosa "I am black but 
beautiful!" There is a legend to the effect that one of the 
Three Wise Men was black. If this be so, then he, who adored 
[198] the Virgin and her Babe under a flaming Orient star, now 
recovers the glory of his race in seeing the Mother and the 
Child portrayed as their own. Well, indeed, may the mothers 
of Africa (who during the days of Colonial expansion saw 
their young sons snatched from their hands to become slaves 
in another land) look forward to a Madonna who might save 
them as she would save her own Son. A poetess has put upon 
the lips of a black Madonna this evening prayer: 

Unanswered yet, but not yet unheard, 
O, God my prayer to You unfurled 
He's just a Negro boy they say, 
Common, cheap and unlearned. 
What difference if he never does return? 
But, God, he is my only son, 

He knew a Bethlehem like your Son, God! 
No home like other little boys, 
With now and then a precious toy. 
He was unwonted like your only Son, 
And lots of Herods sought the life 
Of my little black son. 

He knew a flight like your son, God! 
A flight from hunger and starvation, 
Sometimes from sickness and disease. 
He knew abuse, distress, want and fear. 
He knew the love of a Madonna, too, 
Just like your little Son. 

Must he, too, know a dark Gethsemane? 
A Golgotha and a Calvary too? 
If so then I like the Madonna Mary 
Must help him bear his cross. 
Help me to pray: "not mine, but thine" 
Just like your only son. 

[199] But no one, better than Gilbert K. Chesterton, glorifies 
the Black Virgin, who is as much the Africans' mother as any 
other peoples under the sun, and even more their mother 
than of those who would look upon the people of Africa as less 
noble than themselves. 

In all thy thousand images we salute thee, 
Claim and acclaim on all thy thousand thrones 
Hewn out of multi-colored rocks and risen 
Stained with the stored-up sunsets in all tones - 
If in all tones and shades this shade I feel 
Come from the black cathedrals of Castille 
Climbing these flat black stones of Catalonia, 
To thy most merciful face of night I kneel.* 

Thus, whether one studies world history before or after 
Christ, there is always revealed a yearning in every human 
breast for ideal motherhood. Reaching out from the past to 
Mary, through ten thousand vaguely prophetic Judiths and 
Ruths, and looking back through the mists of the centuries, 
all hearts come to rest in her. This is the ideal woman! She is 
THE MOTHER. No wonder that an aged woman, seeing her 
beauty cross the threshhold, cried out: "Blessed art thou 
amongst women." And this young expectant Mother, far from 
repudiating this high estimate of her privilege, goes beyond 
it, by anticipating the judgment of all time: "all generations 
shall call me blessed." Surveying the future, this ideal Mother 
has no hesitation in proclaiming that the distant ages will ring 
with her praise. Women live only for a few years, and the vast 

* G. K. CHESTERTON, "The Black Virgin," from I Sing of a Maiden. 

[200] majority of the dead are not remembered at all. But Mary 
is confident that she is the real exception to this rule. Daring 
to predict that the law of forgetfulness will be suspended in 
her favor, she proclaims her eternal remembrance, even be- 
fore the Child by Whom she will be remembered has been 
born. Our Lord has not yet worked a miracle; no Hand of 
His had been lifted over palsied limbs - He was but scarcely 
veiled from the heavenly glory, and had only for a few 
months been tabernacled within her - and yet this Woman 
looks down the long corridors of time. Seeing there the un- 
known people of Africa, Asia, China, Japan, she proclaims 
with absolute assurance: "From henceforth, all generations 
shall call me blessed." Julia, the ill-used daughter of Augustus 
and wife of Tiberius; Octavia, the sister of Augustus whom 
Anthony divorced to marry Cleopatra - names once familiar 
to a people and a world - today receive no tribute of praise. 
But this lovely maiden, who lived in a little town in the far 
reaches of the Roman Empire, a town which was associated 
with reproach, is at this hour more honored and oftener borne 
in mind by civilized man than any other member of her sex 
who ever lived. And she knew the reason why: "Because He 
that is Mighty has done great things to me, and Holy is His 

As one searches for the reasons for this universal love of 
Mary among peoples who do not even know her Son, it is to 
be found in four instincts deeply embedded in the human 
heart: affection for the beautiful; admiration for purity; rev- 
erence for a Queen; and love of a Mother. All of these come 
to a focus in Mary. 

The beautiful: he who has lost the love of the beautiful has 
already lost his soul. Purity: even those who fall from it 
[201] always admire those who preserve the ideal, toward which, 
again, they feebly aspire. Queen: the heart wants a love so 
much above itself that it can feel unworthy in its presence 
and bow down before it in reverence. "I am not worthy," is 
the language of all love. Mother: the origin of Me finds peace 
again only by a restoration to the embrace of a mother. Beau- 
tiful, Pure, Queen, Mother! Other women have had one or 
more of these instincts, but not all of them combined. When 
the human heart sees Mary, it sees the realization and con- 
cretion of all its desires and it exclaims in the ecstasy of love: 
"This is the Woman!" 

Mary, as the Madonna of the World, will play a special 
role today in relieving the combined sorrows of the East and 
West. In the East, there is fear; in the West, there is dread. 
The people of the Eastern world who are not Christian have 
a religion based on the fear of the devil and evil spirits. There 
is very little practical cognizance of the good spirit there. In 
Tibet, for example, the farmers plow their fields in a zigzag 
fashion to drive out the devil. Until recent years they im- 
molated a child to placate the evil spirit in the mountains. 
When they cross a mountain pass, they must still give a gift 
to the devil but since they believe the devil is blind, they 
only throw a stone. Every tree that sways, every flower that 
dies, and every disease that harms is caused by an evil spirit. 
China, too, has its devils which have to be assuaged. There 
is a statue of a goddess in Shanghai with a hundred arms. 
More incense burns before that statue than any other. The 
Buddhist priest in the temple explains that her arms repre- 
sent vengeance and that she must be often propitiated lest 
she strike. 

But in the West, in recent years, there has been less fear 
[202] than dread. This inner dread is due, in part, to modern man's 
loss of faith, but above all to his hidden sense of guilt. Al- 
though he denies sin, he cannot escape the effects of sin, which 
appear on the outside as world wars, and on the inside as bore- 
dom. Western man got rid of God in order to make himself 
God; and then he became bored with his own divinity. The 
East cannot yet understand the Incarnate Love of Jesus Christ 
because of its overemphasis on evil spirits. The West is not 
prepared to accept it, because of its dread of penance, the 
ethical condition of its return. Those who have never known 
Christ, fear but those who have known Him and lost Him, 

Since men are unprepared for a revelation of the heavenly 
image of Love which is Christ Jesus Our Lord, God, in His 
Mercy, has prepared on earth an image of love which is not 
Divine, but can lead to the Divine. Such is the role of His 
Mother. She can lift the fear, because her foot crushed the 
serpent of evil; she can do away with dread, because she stood 
at the foot of the Cross when human guilt was washed away 
and we were reborn in Christ. 

As Christ is the Mediator between God and man, so she 
is the Mediatrix between Christ and us. She is the earthly 
principle of love that leads to the Heavenly Principle of Love. 
The relation between her and God is something like the rela- 
tion between rain and the earth. Rain falls from heaven, but 
the earth produces. Divinity comes from Heaven; the human 
nature of the Son of God comes from her. We speak of "mother 
earth" since it gives life through heaven's gift of the sun; 
then why not also recognize the Madonna of the World, since 
she gives us the Eternal Life of God? 

Those who lack the faith are to be recommended particu- 
[203] larly to Mary, as a means to finding Christ, the Son of God. 
Mary, the Madonna of the World, exists where Christ is not 
yet, and where the Mystical Body is not yet visible. For the 
Eastern people who suffer from fear of the evil spirits, and 
for the Western man who lives in dread, the answer must ever 
be cherchez la femme. Look to the woman who will lead you 
to God. The whole world may have to pass through the ex- 
perience of the Bantu woman. She did not know love of God 
until it was translated into Mother Love. 

Jesus may not yet be given an inn, in these lands, but Mary 
is among their people, preparing hearts for grace. She is grace, 
where there is no grace; she is the Advent, where there is no 
Christmas. In all lands where there is an ideal woman, or 
where virgins are venerated, or where one lady is set above 
all ladies, the ground is fertile for accepting the Woman as 
the prelude to embracing Christ. Where there is the presence 
of Jesus, there is the presence of His Mother; but where there 
is the absence of Jesus, either through the ignorance or 
wickedness of men, there is still the presence of Mary. As she 
filled up the gap between the Ascension and Pentecost, so she 
is filling up the gap between the ethical systems of the East 
and their incorporation into the Mystical Body of her Divine 
Son. She is the fertile soil from which, in God's appointed time, 
the faith will flourish and bloom in the East. Although there 
are few tabernacle lamps in India, Japan, and Africa, com- 
pared to the total population, nevertheless I see, written over 
the gateways to all these nations, the words of the Gospel at 
the beginning of the public life of the Saviour: "And Mary, 
the Mother of Jesus, was there." 

Mary and the Moslems 

[204] Islam is the only great post-Christian religion of the 
world. Because it had its origin in the seventh century under 
Mohammed, it was possible to unite within it some elements 
of Christianity and of Judaism, along with particular customs 
of Arabia. Islam takes the doctrine of the unity of God, 
His Majesty and His Creative Power, and uses it, in part, as 
a basis for the repudiation of Christ, the Son of God. Misun- 
derstanding the notion of the Trinity, Mohammed made 
Christ a prophet, announcing him, just as, to Christians, Isaiah 
and John the Baptist are prophets announcing Christ. 

The Christian European West barely escaped destruction 
at the hands of the Moslems. At one point they were stopped 
near Tours and at another point, later on in time, outside 
the gates of Vienna. The Church throughout northern Africa 
was practically destroyed by Moslem power, and at the pres- 
ent hour, the Moslems are beginning to rise again. 

If Islam is a heresy, as Hilaire Belloc believes it to be, 
it is the only heresy that has never declined. Others have had 
a moment of vigor, then gone into doctrinal decay at the death 
of the leader, and finally evaporated in a vague social move- 
ment. Islam, on the contrary, has only had its first phase. 
[205] There was never a time in which it declined, either in 
numbers, or in the devotion of its followers. 

The missionary effort of the Church toward this group has 
been, at least on the surface, a failure, for the Moslems are so 
far almost unconvertible. The reason is that for a follower of 
Mohammed to become a Christian is much like a Christian 
becoming a Jew. The Moslems believe that they have the final 
and definitive revelation of God to the world and that Christ 
was only a prophet announcing Mohammed, the last of God's 
real prophets. 

At the present time, the hatred of the Moslem countries 
against the West is becoming a hatred against Christianity it- 
self. Although the statesmen have not yet taken it into ac- 
count, there is still grave danger that the temporal power of 
Islam may return and, with it, the menace that it may shake 
off a West which has ceased to be Christian, and affirm itself 
as a great anti-Christian world power. Moslem writers say, 
"When the locust swarms darken vast countries, they bear on 
their wings these Arabic words: 'We are God's host, each of 
us has ninety-nine eggs, and if we had a hundred, we should 
lay waste the world with all that is in it.'" 

The problem is, How shall we prevent the hatching of the 
hundredth egg? It is our firm belief that the fears some enter- 
tain concerning the Moslems are not to be realized, but that 
Islam, instead, will eventually be converted to Christianity 
and in a way that even some of our missionaries never 
suspect. It is our belief that this will happen not through the 
direct teaching of Christianity, but through a summoning of 
the Moslems to a veneration of the Mother of God. This is the 
line of argument; 

The Koran, which is the Bible of the Moslems, has many pas-
[206] sages concerning the Blessed Virgin. First of all, the Koran 
believes in her Immaculate Conception and, also, in her Virgin 
Birth. The third chapter of the Koran places the history of 
Mary's family in a genealogy which goes back through Abra- 
ham, Noah, and Adam. When one compares the Koran's de- 
scription of the birth of Mary with the apocryphal Gospel of 
the birth of Mary, one is tempted to believe that Mohammed 
very much depended upon the latter. Both books describe 
the old age and the definite sterility of the mother of Mary. 
When, however, she conceives, the mother of Mary is made 
to say in the Koran: "O Lord, I vow and I consecrate to you 
what is already within me. Accept it from me." 

When Mary is born, the mother says: "And I consecrate her 
with all of her posterity under thy protection, O Lord, against 

The Koran passes over Joseph in the life of Mary, but the 
Moslem tradition knows his name and has some familiarity 
with him. In this tradition, Joseph is made to speak to Mary, 
who is a virgin. As he inquired how she conceived Jesus with- 
out a father, Mary answered: "Do you not know that God, 
when He created the wheat had no need of seed, and that God 
by His Power made the trees grow without the help of 
rain? All that God had to do was to say. 'So be it, and it was 

The Koran has also verses on the Annunciation, Visitation, 
and Nativity. Angels are pictured as accompanying the 
Blessed Mother and saying: "Oh, Mary, God has chosen you 
and purified you, and elected you above all the women of the 
earth." In the nineteenth chapter of the Koran there are forty- 
one verses on Jesus and Mary. There is such a strong defense 
of the virginity of Mary here that the Koran, in the fourth 
[207] book, attributes the condemnation of the Jews to their 
monstrous calumny against the Virgin Mary. 

Mary, then, is for the Moslems the true Sayyida, or Lady. 
The only possible serious rival to her in their creed would be 
Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed himself. But after the 
death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: "Thou shalt be the most 
blessed of all the women in Paradise, after Mary." In a variant 
of the text, Fatima is made to say: "I surpass all the women, 
except Mary." 

This brings us to our second point, namely, why the Blessed 
Mother, in this twentieth century, should have revealed her- 
self in the insignificant little village of Fatima, so that to all 
future generations she would be known as "Our Lady of 
Fatima." Since nothing ever happens out of heaven except 
with a finesse of all details, I believe that the Blessed Virgin 
chose to be known as "Our Lady of Fatima" as a pledge and a 
sign of hope to the Moslem people, and as an assurance that 
they, who show her so much respect, will one day accept her 
Divine Son, too. 

Evidence to support these views is found in the historical 
fact that the Moslems occupied Portugal for centuries. At the 
time when they were finally driven out, the last Moslem chief 
had a beautiful daughter by the name of Fatima. A Catholic 
boy fell in love with her, and for him she not only stayed be- 
hind when the Moslems left, but even embraced the faith. 
The young husband was so much in love with her that he 
changed the name of the town where he lived to Fatima. Thus, 
the very place where Our Lady appeared in 1917 bears a his- 
torical connection to Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed. 

The final evidence of the relationship of Fatima to the 
Moslems is the enthusiastic reception which the Moslems in 
[208]Africa and India and elsewhere gave to the Pilgrim statue 
of Our Lady of Fatima, as mentioned earlier. Moslems attended 
the Church services in honor of Our Lady; they allowed re- 
ligious processions and even prayers before their mosques; 
and in Mozambique the Moslems, who were unconverted, 
began to be Christian as soon as the statue of Our Lady of 
Fatima was erected. 

Missionaries in the future will, more and more, see that their 
apostolate among the Moslems will be successful in the meas- 
ure that they preach Our Lady of Fatima. Mary is the advent 
of Christ, bringing Christ to the people before Christ Himself 
is born. In any apologetic endeavor, it is always best to start 
with that which people already accept. Because the Moslems 
have a devotion to Mary, our missionaries should be satisfied 
merely to expand and to develop that devotion, with the full 
realization that Our Blessed Lady will carry the Moslems the 
rest of the way to her Divine Son. She is forever a "traitor" in 
the sense that she will not accept any devotion for herself, 
but will always bring anyone who is devoted to her to her 
Divine Son. As those who lose devotion to her lose belief in 
the Divinity of Christ, so those who intensify devotion to her 
gradually acquire that belief. 

Many of our great missionaries in Africa have already 
broken down the bitter hatred and prejudices of the Moslems 
against the Christians through their acts of charity, their 
schools and hospitals. It now remains to use another approach, 
namely, that of taking the forty-first chapter of the Koran and 
showing them that it was taken out of the Gospel of Luke, 
that Mary could not be, even in their own eyes, the most 
blessed of all the women of heaven if she had not also borne 
One Who was the Saviour of the world. If Judith and Esther 
[209] of the Old Testament were prefigures of Mary, then it may 
very well be that Fatima herself was a postfigure of Mary! 
The Moslems should be prepared to acknowledge that, if 
Fatima must give way in honor to the Blessed Mother, it is 
because she is different from all the other mothers of the world 
and that without Christ she would be nothing. 

Roses and Prayers 

[210] No human who has ever sent roses to a friend in token of 
affection, or ever received them with gladness, will be alien to 
the story of prayer. And a deep instinct in humanity makes it 
associate roses with joy. Pagan peoples crowned their statues 
with roses as symbols of their own hearts. The faithful of the 
early Church substituted prayers for roses. In the days of the 
early martyrs - "early" because the Church has more martyrs 
today than it had in the first four centuries - as the young vir- 
gins marched over the sands of the Colosseum into the jaws 
of death, they clothed themselves in festive robes and wore 
on their heads a crown of roses, bedecked, fittingly, to meet 
the King of Kings in Whose name they would die. The faith- 
ful, at night, would gather up these crowns of roses and say 
their prayers on them one prayer for each rose. Far away 
in the desert of Egypt the anchorites and hermits were also 
counting their prayers, but in the form of little grains or peb- 
bles strung together into a crown - a practice which Moham- 
med took for his Moslems. From this custom of offering spir- 
itual bouquets arose a series of prayers known as the Rosary, 
for Rosary means "crown of roses". 

Not always the same prayers were said on the Rosary. In 
the Eastern Church there was a rosary called the Acathist 
[211] (Akathistos), which is a liturgical hymn recited in any posi- 
tion except sitting. It combined a long series of invocations to 
the Mother of Our Lord, held together by a scene from the 
Life of Our Lord on which one meditated while saying the 
prayers. In the Western Church, St. Brigit of Ireland used a 
rosary made up of the Hail Mary and the Our Father. Finally, 
the Rosary as we know it today began to take shape. 

From the earliest days, the Church asked its faithful to 
recite the one hundred and fifty Psalms of David, This cus- 
tom still prevails among priests, who recite some of these 
Psalms every day. But it was not easy for anyone to memorize 
the one hundred and fifty Psalms. Then, too, before the inven- 
tion of printing, it was difficult to procure a book. That is why 
certain important books like the Bible had to be chained like 
telephone books; otherwise people would have run off with 
them. Incidentally, this gave rise to the stupid lie that the 
Church would not allow anyone to read the Bible, because it 
was chained. The fact is, it was chained so people could read 
it. The telephone book is chained, too, but it is more consulted 
than any book in modern civilization! 

The people who could not read the one hundred and fifty 
Psalms wanted to do something to make up for it. So they 
substituted one hundred and fifty Hail Marys. They broke 
up these one hundred and fifty, in the manner of the Acathist, 
into fifteen decades, or series of ten. Each part was to be said 
while meditating on a different aspect of the Life of Our 
Lord. To keep the decades separate, each one of them began 
with the Our Father and ended with the Doxology of Praise 
to the Trinity. St. Dominic, who died in 1221, received from 
the Blessed Mother the command to preach and to popularize 
[212] this devotion for the good of souls, for conquest over evil, 
and for the prosperity of Holy Mother Church and thus gave us 
the Rosary in its present classical form. 

Practically all the prayers of the Rosary, as well as the de- 
tails of the Life of Our Savior on which one meditates while 
saying it, are to be found in the Scriptures. The first part of 
the Hail Mary is nothing but the words of the angel to Mary; 
the next part, the words of Elizabeth to Mary on the occasion 
of her visit. The only exception is the last part of the Hail 
Mary, namely, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sin- 
ners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen." This was not 
introduced until the latter part of the Middle Ages. Since it 
seizes upon the two decisive moments of life: "Now, and at 
the hour of our death," it suggests the spontaneous outcry of 
people in a great calamity. The Black Death, which ravaged 
all Europe and wiped out one-third of its population, 
prompted the faitliful to cry out to the Mother of Our Lord to 
protect them, at a time when the present moment and death 
were almost one. 

The Black Death has ended. But now the Red Death of 
Communism is sweeping the earth. In keeping with the 
spirit of adding something to this prayer when evil is inten- 
sified, I find it interesting that, when the Blessed Mother ap- 
peared at Fatima in 1917 because of the great decline in mor- 
als and the advent of godlessness, she asked that, after the 
"Glory be to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit," we add, "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell; and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.”

It is objected that there is much repetition in the Rosary 
because the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary are said so 
often; therefore it is monotonous. That reminds me of a 
woman who came to see me one evening after instructions. 
[213] She said, "I would never become a Catholic. You say the 
same words in the Rosary over and over again, and anyone who 
repeats the same words is never sincere. I would never believe 
anyone who repeated his words, and neither would God." I 
asked her who the man was with her. She said he was her 
fiance. I asked: "Does he love you?" "Certainly, he does." 
"But how do you know?" "He told me." "What did he say?" 
"He said: 'I love you'." "When did he tell you last?" "About 
an hour ago." "Did he tell you before?" "Yes, last night." 
"What did he say?" " 1 love you.' " "But never before?" "He 
tells me every night." I said: "Do not believe him. He is re- 
peating; he is not sincere." 

The beautiful truth is that there is no repetition in, "I love 
you." Because there is a new moment of time, another point 
in space, the words do not mean the same as they did at an- 
other time or space. A mother says to her son: "You are a 
good boy." She may have said it ten thousand times before, 
but each time it means something different; the whole per- 
sonality goes out to it anew, as a new historical circumstance 
summons forth a new outburst of affection. Love is never 
monotonous in the uniformity of its expression. The mind is 
infinitely variable in its language, but the heart is not. The 
heart of a man, in the face of the woman he loves, is too poor 
to translate the infinity of his affection into a different word. 
So the heart takes one expression, "I love you," and in saying 
it over and over again, it never repeats. It is the only real news 
in the universe. That is what we do when we say the Rosary, 
we are saying to God, the Trinity, to the Incarnate Saviour, 
to the Blessed Mother: "I love you, I love you, I love you" 
Each time it means something different because, at each 
decade, our mind is moving to a new demonstration of the 
[214] Saviour's love: for example, from the mystery of His Love 
which willed to become one of us in His Incarnation, to the 
other mystery of love when He suffered for us, and on to the 
other mystery of His Love where He intercedes for us before 
the Heavenly Father. And who shall forget that Our Lord 
Himself in the moment of His greatest agony repeated, three 
times within an hour, the same prayer? 

The beauty of the Rosary is that it is not merely a vocal 
prayer. It is also a mental prayer. One sometimes hears a 
dramatic presentation in which, while the human voice is 
speaking, there is a background of beautiful music, giving 
force and dignity to the words. The Rosary is like that. While 
the prayer is being said, the heart is not hearing music, but 
it is meditating on the Life of Christ all over again, applied to 
his own life and his own needs. As the wire holds the beads 
together, so meditation holds the prayers together. We often 
speak to people while our minds are thinking of something 
else. But in the Rosary, we not only say prayers, we think 
them. Bethlehem, Galilee, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Golgotha, 
Calvary, Mount Olivet, Heaven - all these move before our 
mind's eye as our lips pray. The stained-glass windows in a 
Church invite the eye to dwell on thoughts about God. The 
Rosary invites our fingers, our lips, and our heart in one vast 
symphony of prayer, and for that reason is the greatest prayer 
ever composed by man. The Rosary has a special value to 
many groups: (1) the worried, (2) the intellectual and the 
unlearned, (3) the sick. 

1. The Worried. Worry is a want of harmony between the 
mind and the body. Worried people invariably keep their 
minds too busy and their hands too idle. God intended that 
[215] the truths we have in our mind should work themselves 
out in action. "The Word became flesh" - such is the secret of 
a happy life. But in mental distress, the thousand and one 
thoughts find no order or solace within and no escape with- 
out. In order to overcome this mental indigestion, psychia- 
trists have taught soldiers suffering from war shock how to 
knit and do handicrafts, in order that the pent-up energy of 
their minds might flow out through the busy extremities of 
their fingers. 

This is, indeed, helpful, but it is only a part of the cure. Wor- 
ries and inner distress cannot be overcome by keeping the 
hands alone busy. There must be a contact with a new source 
of Divine Energy and the development of confidence and 
trust in a Person Whose essence is Love. Could worried souls 
be taught the love of the Good Shepherd Who cares for the 
wayward sheep, so that they would put themselves into that 
new area of love all their fears and anxieties would banish. 
But that is difficult. Concentration is impossible when the 
mind is troubled; thoughts run helter-skelter; a thousand and 
one images flood across the mind; distracted and wayward, 
the spiritual seems a long way off. The Rosary is the best 
therapy for these distraught, unhappy, fearful, and frustrated 
souls, precisely because it involves the simultaneous use of 
three powers: the physical, the vocal, and the spiritual, and 
in that order. The fingers, touching the beads, are reminded 
that these little counters are to be used for prayer. This is the 
physical suggestion of prayer. The lips move in unison with 
the fingers. This is a second or vocal suggestion of prayer. The 
Church, a wise psychologist, insists that the lips move while 
saying the Rosary, because She knows that the external 
[216] rhythm of the body can create a rhythm of the soul. If the 
fingers and the lips keep at it, the spiritual will soon follow, 
and the prayer will eventually end in the heart. 

The beads help the mind to concentrate. They are almost 
like the self-starter of a motor; after a few spits and spurts, the 
soul soon gets going. Every airplane must have a runway be- 
fore it can fly. What the runway is to the airplane, that the 
Rosary beads are to prayer - the physical start to gain spir- 
itual altitude. The very rhythm and sweet monotony induce 
a physical peace and quiet and create an affective fixation on 
God. The physical and the mental work together if we give 
them a chance. Stronger minds can work from the mind out- 
ward; but worried minds have to work from the outside in- 
ward. With the spiritually trained, the soul leads the body; 
with most people, the body has to lead the soul. Little by 
little the worried, as they say the Rosary, see that all their 
worries stemmed from their egotism. No normal mind yet has 
ever been overcome by worries or fears who was faithful to 
the Rosary. You will be surprised how you can climb out of 
your worries, bead by bead, up to the very throne of the Heart 
of Love Itself. 

2. The Intellectual and the Unlearned. The spiritual ad- 
vantages which one derives from the Rosary depend upon 
two factors: first, the understanding that one has of the joys, 
sorrows, and glory in the Life of Christ; and second, the fervor 
and love with which one prays. Because the Rosary is both 
a mental and a vocal prayer, it is one where intellectual ele- 
phants may bathe, and the simple birds may also sip. 

It happens that the simple often pray better than the 
learned, not because the intellect is prejudicial to prayer, but 
because, when it begets pride, it destroys the spirit of prayer. 

[217] One always ought to love according to knowledge, for Wis- 
dom and Love of the Trinity are equal. But as husbands who 
know they have good wives do not always love according to 
that knowledge, so too the philosopher does not always pray 
as he should, and thus his knowledge becomes sterile. 

The Rosary is a great test of faith. What the Eucharist is in 
the order of Sacraments, that the Rosary is in order of sacra- 
mentals - the mystery and the test of faith - the touchstone 
by which the soul is judged in its humility. The mark of the 
Christian is the willingness to look for the Divine in the flesh 
of a babe in a crib, the continuing Christ under the appear- 
ance of bread on an altar, and a meditation and a prayer on a 
string of beads. 

The more one descends to humility, the deeper becomes 
the faith. The Blessed Mother thanked her Divine Son be- 
cause He had looked on her lowliness. The world starts with 
what is big, the spirit begins with the little, yes, even with the 
trivial! The faith of the simple can surpass that of the learned, 
because the intellectual often ignore those humble means to 
devotion, such as medals, pilgrimages, statues, and Rosaries. 
As the rich, in their snobbery, sneer at the poor, so the in- 
telligentsia, in their sophistication, jeer at the lowly. One of 
the last acts of Our Lord was to wash the feet of His Disci- 
ples, after which He told them that out of such humiliation 
true greatness is born. 

When it comes to love, there is no difference between the 
intellectual and the simple. They resort to the same token of 
affection and the same delicate devices, such as the keeping 
of a flower, the treasuring of a handkerchief or a paper with a 
scribbled message. Love is the only equalizing force in the 
world; all differences are dissolved in the great democracy of 
[218] affection. It is only when men cease to love that they 
begin to act differently. Then it is that they spurn the tiny little 
manifestations of affection which make love grow. 

But if the simple and the intellectual love, in the human 
order, in the same way, then they should also love God in 
the Divine order, in the same way. The educated can explain 
love better than the simple, but they have no richer experience 
of it. The theologian may know more about the Divinity of 
Christ, but he may not vitalize it in his life as well as the 
simple. As it is by the simple gesture of love that the wise 
man enters into the understanding of love, so it is by the sim- 
ple acts of piety that the educated also enter into the knowl- 
edge of God. 

The Rosary is the meeting ground of the uneducated and 
the learned; the place where the simple love grows in knowl- 
edge and where the knowing mind grows in love. As Maeter- 
linck has said: "The thinker continues to think justly only if 
he does not lose contact with those who do not think at all!" 

3. The sick. The third great value of the Rosary is for the sick. 
When fever mounts and the body aches, the mind cannot read; 
it hardly wants to be spoken to, but there is much in its heart 
it yearns to tell. Since the number of prayers one knows by 
heart is very limited, and their very repetition becomes weari- 
some in sickness, it is well for the sick to have a form of prayer 
in which the words focus or spearhead a meditation. As the 
magnifying glass catches and unites the scattered rays of the 
sun, so the Rosary brings together the otherwise dissipated 
thoughts of life in the sickroom into the white and burning 
heat of Divine Love. 

When a person is healthy, his eyes are, for the most part, 
looking to the earth; when he is flat on his back, his eyes look 
[219] to Heaven. Perhaps it is truer to say that Heaven looks down 
on him. In such moments when fever, agony, and pain make 
it hard to pray, the suggestion of prayer that comes from 
merely holding the Rosary is tremendous - or better still, 
caressing the Crucifix at the end of it. Because our prayers are 
known by heart, the heart can now pour them out, and thus 
fulfill the Scriptural injunction to "pray always." Prisoners 
of war during the last World War have told me how the 
Rosary enabled men to pray, almost continuously, for days 
before their death. The favorite mysteries then were gen- 
erally the sorrowful ones, for by meditating on the suffering 
of Our Saviour on the Cross, men were inspired to unite their 
pains with Him, so that, sharing in His Cross, they might also 
share in His Resurrection. 

The Rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and 
there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever 
known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into 
mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education 
of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close 
upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance 
of the next. The power of the Rosary is beyond description. 
And here I am reciting concrete instances, which I know. 
Young people, in danger of death through accident, have 
had miraculous recoveries - a mother, despaired of in child- 
birth, was saved with the child - alcoholics became temper- 
ate - dissolute lives became spiritualized - fallen-aways re- 
turned to the faith - the childless were blessed with a family--  
soldiers were preserved during battle - mental anxieties were 
overcome - and pagans were converted. I know of a Jew who, 
in World War I, was in a shell hole on the Western Front with 
four Austrian soldiers. Shells had been bursting on all sides. 
[220] Suddenly, one shell killed his four companions. He took a 
Rosary from the hands of one of them and began to say it. 
He knew it by heart, for he had heard others say it so often. 
At the end of the first decade, he felt an inner warning to 
leave that shell hole. He crawled through much mud and 
muck, and threw himself into another. At that moment a shell 
hit the first hole, where he had been lying. Four more times, 
exactly the same experience; four more warnings, and four 
times his life was saved! He promised then to give his life to 
Our Lord and to His Blessed Mother if he should be saved. 
After the war more sufferings came to him; his family was 
burned by Hitler, but his promise lingered on. Recently, I 
baptized him and the grateful soldier is now preparing to 
study for the priesthood. 

All the idle moments of one's life can be sanctified, thanks 
to the Rosary. As we walk the streets, we pray with the Rosary 
hidden in our hand or in our pocket; driving an automobile, 
the little knobs under most steering wheels can serve as 
counters for the decades. While waiting to be served at a 
lunchroom, or waiting for a train, or in a store; or while play- 
ing dummy at bridge; or when conversation or a lecture lags -  
all these moments can be sanctified and made to serve 
inner peace, thanks to a prayer that enables one to pray at 
all times and under all circumstances. If you wish to convert 
anyone to the fullness of the knowledge of Our Lord and of 
His Mystical Body, then teach him the Rosary. One of two 
things will happen. Either he will stop saying the Rosary - 
he will get the gift of faith. 

The Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary 

[221] The Rosary relates the Christian life to that of Mary. The 
three great mysteries of the Rosary - the Joyful, the Sorrow- 
ful, and the Glorious - are the brief description of earthly 
life contained in the Creed: birth, struggle, and victory. Joy- 
ful: "Born of the Virgin Mary." Sorrowful: "Suffered under 
Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried" Glorious: 
"The third day He arose again from the dead, and sits at the 
right hand of God, the Father Almighty." The Christian life 
is inseparable from the joys of birth and youth, the struggles 
of maturity against the passions and evil, and finally, the hope 
of glory in Heaven. 

First Joyful Mystery: the Annunciation 

 In human love man desires, woman gives. In Divine Love, 
God seeks, the soul responds. God asks Mary to give Him a 
human nature with which He may start a new humanity. 
Mary agrees. A woman's role is to be the medium by which 
God comes to man. A woman is frustrated who does not bring 
forth a new man, either physically, by birth, or spiritually, 
[222] by conversion. And every man is frustrated who knows not 
both his earthly and his heavenly mother, Mary. 

Second Joyful Mystery: the Visitation 

Love that refuses to share kills its own power to love. Mary 
not only wants others to share her love, but also her Beloved. 
She brings Christ to souls before Christ is born. The Gospel 
tells us that on seeing Mary, Elizabeth was "filled with the 
Holy Spirit." When we have Christ within, we cannot be 
happy until we have imparted our joy. The soul that does not 
magnify itself alone can truly magnify the Lord. Out of the 
humility of Mary sprang the song of the Magnificat, in which 
she made nothing of herself and everything of Him. By re- 
ducing ourselves to zero, we most quickly find the Infinite. 

Third Joyful Mystery: the Nativity 

As the Virgin conceived Our Lord without the lusts of the 
flesh, so now she brings Him forth in joy without the labors 
of the flesh. As bees draw honey from the flower without of- 
fending it, as Eve was taken out of the side of Adam without 
any grief to him, so now in remaking the human race, the 
new Adam is taken from the new Eve without any grief to 
her. It is only her other children of the spirit, which she will 
bring forth at Calvary, who will cause her pain. And the sign 
by which men would know He is God was that He would be 
wrapped in swaddling clothes. The sun would be in eclipse, 
Eternity in time, Omnipotence in bonds, God in the shrouds 
of human flesh. Only by becoming little likewise, do we ever 
become great. 

Fourth Joyful Mystery: the Presentation 

[223] Mary submits to the general law of Purification, from which 
she was really free, lest she should scandalize by the prema- 
ture discovery of the secret entrusted to her keeping. Simeon 
tells her that her Son is to be contradicted - the sign of con- 
tradiction is the Cross - and a Sword her own heart shall 
pierce. And yet all this is considered a Joyful Mystery: for, as 
the Father sent His Son to be a victim for the sins of the 
world, so would Mary joyfully guard Him until the hour of 
sacrifice. The highest use any of us can make of the gifts of 
God is to give them back to God again. 

Fifth Joyful Mystery: Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple 

It is so easy to lose Christ; He can even be lost by a little 
heedlessness; a little want of watchfulness and the Divine 
Presence slips away. But sometimes a reconciliation is sweeter 
than an unbroken friendship. There are two ways of knowing 
how good God is: one is never to lose Him, the other is to lose 
Him and find Him again. Sin is the loss of Jesus, and since 
Mary felt the sting of His absence she could understand the 
gnawing heart of every sinner and be to it, in the truest sense 
of the word: "Refuge of Sinners." 

The Agony in the Garden 

Our fellow creatures can help us only when our needs are 
human. But in an hour of our greatest need, some of them 
betray and others sleep. In the really deep agony, we must 
[224] cry to God. "Being in agony, He prayed." What up to 
that point seemed a tragedy, now becomes an abandonment 
to the Father's Will. 

The Scourging at the Pillar 

Over seven hundred years before, Isaiah prophesied the 
laceration of Our Lord's Sacred Body, "Here is one despised, 
left out of all human reckoning, bowed with misery, and no 
stranger to weakness; how should we recognize that face?" 
Great souls are like great mountains; they always attract the 
storms. Upon their bodies break the thunders and lightnings 
of evil men to whom purity and goodness is a reproach. In 
reparation for all the sins of the flesh, and in anticipated en- 
couragement to the martyrs who would be beaten by Com- 
munists and their progenitors, He delivers His Sacred Body 
to the lash until "His bones could be numbered," and His 
flesh hung from Him like purple rags. 

The Crowning with Thorns 

The Saviour of the world is made a puppet for those who 
play the fool: the King of Kings is mocked by those who will 
have "no King but Caesar." Thorns were part of the original 
curse upon the earth. Even nature, through sinful men, re- 
bels against God. If Christ wears a crown of thorns, shall we 
covet a crown of laurel? 

I saw the Son of God go by 
Crowned with a crown of thorn. 
"Was it not finished, Lord" said I, 
"And all the anguish borne?' 

He turned on me His awful eyes: 
"Hast thou not understood? 
Lo, every soul is Calvary 
And every sin a rood." 

(Rachel Annard Taylor, "The Question," from Anthology of Jesus, 
edited by Sir James Marchant ["rood"= cross]. 

The Carrying of the Cross 

[225] Many a cross we bear is of our own manufacture; we made 
it by our sins. But the Cross which the Saviour carried was 
not His, but ours. One beam in contradiction to another beam 
was the symbol of our will in contradiction to His own. To the 
pious women who met Him on the roadway, He said; "Weep 
not for Me." To shed tears for the dying Saviour is to lament 
the remedy; it were wiser to lament the sin that caused it. 
If Innocence itself took a Cross, then how shall we, who are 
guilty, complain against it? 

The Crucifixion 

Once nailed to the Cross and "lifted up to draw all men 
to Himself," He is taunted: "Others He saved, Himself He 
cannot save." Of course not! This is not weakness, but obedi- 
ence to the law of sacrifice. A mother cannot save herself, if 
she would raise her child; the rain cannot save itself, if it 
would bud the greenery; a soldier cannot save himself, if he 
would save his country; and neither will Christ save Himself, 
since He came to save us. What heart can conceive the mis- 
ery of humankind, if the Son of God had saved Himself from 
suffering, and left a fallen world to the wrath of God? 

The Resurrection 

Easter Sunday was not within three days of the Transfig- 
uration, but within three days of Good Friday. Love is not to 
[226] be measured by the joys and pleasures which it gives, but 
by the ability to draw joy out of sorrow, a resurrection out of a 
crucifixion, and life out of death. Unless there is a Cross in our 
life, there will never be an empty tomb; unless there is the 
crown of thorns, there will never be the halo of light: "O, 
Death, where is thy victory? O, grave where is thy sting?" 

The Ascension 

In Heaven there is now a human nature like our own, the 
promise of what ours will one day be if we follow His Way. 
Thanks to this human nature, He will always have a deep 
sympathy for us, even "making intercession for us." We can 
ascend to Him, now, only in our minds and hearts; our bodies 
will follow after the Last Judgment. Until then we approach 
His Throne with confidence, knowing that "pierced Hands 
distribute the richest blessings." 

The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles 

As the Son of God in the Incarnation took upon Himself a 
human body from the womb of the Blessed Mother over- 
shadowed by the Holy Spirit, so now on Pentecost He takes 
from the womb of humanity a Mystical Body, as the Holy 
Spirit overshadowed the twelve Apostles with "Mary in the 
midst of them abiding in prayer." The Mystical Body is the 
Church; He is the Invisible Head; Peter and his successors, 
the Visible Head; we, the members, and the Holy Spirit its 
soul. As He once taught, governed, and sanctified through His 
human nature, so now He teaches, governs, and sanctifies 
through other human natures compacted into His Mysti- 
cal Body, the Church. We can never thank God enough 
for making us members of His One Fold and one Shep- 

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into Heaven 

[227] Mary was not a rose in which Divinity reposed for a time; 
she was the canal through which God came to us. Mary could 
no longer live without the Dream she brought forth, nor 
could the Dream live without her, body and soul. Her love of 
God bore her upward; His love of His Mother lifted her up- 
ward. Our Lord could not forget the cradle in which He lay. 
In the Annunciation, the angel said: "The Lord is with Thee." 
In the Assumption: "Mary is with the Lord." Her Assumption 
is the guarantee that one's prayers to her will be answered. 
The Son is on the right Hand of the Father; she is on the 
right Hand of the Son. 

The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin 

As Queen of Heaven, Our Lord comes back to us again 
through Mary, passing His Life and His blessing through her 
hands as the Mediatrix of all graces. He came through her in 
Bethlehem; through her, we go back to Him and through 
her He comes back again to us. 

Our Lady went into a strange country 
And they crowned her for a queen 
For she needed never to be stayed or questioned 
But only seen; 
And they were broken down under unbearable beauty 
As we have been. 

Our Lady wears a crown in a strange country 
The crown He gave, 
But she has not forgotten to call her old companions 
To call and crave; 
And to hear her calling a man might arise and thunder 
On the doors of the grave. 

(G. K. Chesterton, "Regina Angelorum," from Collected Poems, 1935) 


Misery of Soul and the Queen of Mercy 

[228] A little parable to illustrate a great truth: every mortal one 
of us remembers the day when mother said she was going to 
bake us some cookies. Her plan was that we should enjoy 
them together. We saw her prepare the eggs, the soda, the 
flour, milk, sugar, butter, and chocolate - I hope I have left 
out none of the ingredients. When, finally, the batter was 
made and was allowed to settle, she told us not to touch it - 
not because she did not want us to be happy nor because 
any of the ingredients of the cookies was bad, but because, in 
her superior wisdom she knew that we could not be happy 
in anything that was not brought to full perfection. 

But some of us did taste the batter - I know I did and that 
is when the trouble began. A stomach-ache resulted from the 
disobedience, and the cookies we were supposed to enjoy 
with mother were never eaten. 

This is, in miniature, what happened at the beginning of 
human history, and it is being repeated with varying stress, 
in every soul ever since. God did not say to our first parents: 
"Some fruit is good, and some is bad. You must not eat of 
the bad fruit." He did not say this, because all the fruit was 
good, just as all the ingredients of the cookies were good. But 
[229] God did say: "You must not eat of the tree of the know-
ledge of good and evil." By this He meant: "Do not use things 
in their imperfect, isolated state, for they are as yet disjointed 
from their final purpose." 

But man decided to use these things in their half-prepared 
state, and contracted humanity's great stomach-ache which 
is called original sin. It is probable that some children have 
accused their mothers of giving them a stomach-ache, just 
as men, who rebelled against their final purpose, have asked 
of God: "If He knew I would be so frustrated, why did He 
make me?" The manufacturers of automobiles give instruc- 
tions about gas, oil, etc., in order to get the maximum service 
out of the car, but they do not, thereby, restrain our freedom. 
So God asks us not to treat the batter as a cookie, earth as 
Heaven, and the non-God as God. He does this not because 
he ever wants to put us in chains, but because He wants us to 
be happy. 

Every person has a destiny - a final destiny. He has lesser 
goals, too, such as making a living, rearing a family, but over 
and above all, there is his supreme goal, which is to be per- 
fectly happy. This he can be if he has a life without end or 
pain or death, a truth without error or doubt, and an eternal 
ecstasy of love without satiety or loss. Now this Eternal Life, 
Universal Truth, and Heavenly Love is the definition of God. 
To refuse this final perfect end and to substitute a passing, 
incomplete, unsatisfying object, such as flesh or ambitious 
ego, is to create an inner unhappiness that no psychiatrist 
can heal! 

What the stomach-ache is to the body, that a complex is 
to an adult. A complex is basically a conflict between what 
we ought to be and what we are; between our ideals or heav- 
[230] enly implanted impulses and our plain, matter-of-fact selves; 
a complex is an exaggerated tension between the God-sum- 
mons and the affirmation of our egos. If a razor were endowed 
with consciousness and were used to cut rock, it would scream 
with pain, because its life purpose was frustrated. Our inner 
consciences scream with neuroses and psychoses, too, when 
we do not freely tend to the supreme goal for which we are 
made, namely, the Life and Truth and Love which is God. 

It is possible to draw a complex. Take a pencil and draw a 
line from the bottom of the page to the top. That vertical line, 
which points heavenward, is the symbol of our final destiny. 
Now, draw another line, across the page, splitting the vertical 
line. What do you have? A Cross! What a complex is psycho- 
logically, that a cross is theologically. The vertical bar repre- 
sents God's Will; the horizontal bar represents our will, which 
negates it, contradicts it, and crosses it. Not all, but most, of 
the curable psychoses and neuroses of modern minds are ef- 
fects of sin. Patients got themselves all "crossed up," because 
they negated their God-given natures. Opening tin cans with 
pencils breaks pencils and does not open tin cans. Trying to 
make a god out of the belly, or a god out of the ego of our 
own will and low standards of life, breaks the mind and does 
not bring happiness. 

Every unhappy soul in the world has a cross embedded in 
it. The cross was never meant to be on the inside, but only on 
the outside. When the Israelites were bitten by the serpents, 
and the poison seeped within, Moses planted a bronze serpent 
on a stick and all who looked on it were healed. The bronze 
serpent was like the serpent which stung them, but it was 
without poison. So the Son of Man came in the likeness of 
man, but was without sin, and all who look upon Him on His 
[231] Cross are saved. In like manner, the inner cross or complex 
disappears when one catches a vision of the great outer cross 
on Calvary, with the God-man upon it Who solves the con- 
tradiction by making good come from evil, life from death, 
and victory from defeat. 

The child, by making himself wiser than his mother, dis- 
covered his stupidity. Man, by making himself a god, dis- 
covers the painful agony that he is not God. When the first 
man made this discovery, Scripture describes him as "naked." 
Naked, because the man who neglects or rejects God has 
nothing. He may cover himself for a while with the fig leaves 
of "Success," "Art," "Science," "Progress" or by rationalizing 
his conduct, saying that there is no truth. But he knows that 
these are but inadequate shreds and cannot cover all his 
wants. This is modern nudity - to be without God! 

What we have successively called a stomach-ache, a com- 
plex, a cross, a nakedness is so general that our modern litera- 
ture is rapidly becoming filled with what may be termed 
the Theology of Absence. A man without God is not like a 
cake without raisins; he is like the cake without the flour and 
milk, he lacks the essential ingredients of happiness. Not 
knowing God is not like not knowing Homer; it is more like 
having life and waking up in a tomb. The absence the atheist 
feels is the negation of a presence, a sense of the absurd, a 
consciousness of nothingness. White grace is the presence of 
God in the soul; black grace is the unhappiness of His absence. 

The absence may be likened to a widowhood, in that ex- 
istence seems spoiled because we live in the dark agonizing 
shadow of what is gone! All this inner misery comes from two 
kinds of sin: (1) the sin which takes the Gift and forgets the 
Giver; (2) the sin which rejects the Giver with his Gift. The 
[232] first makes God useless; the second drives God from the 
soul. Adam sinned in the first way by choosing something else 
before God, as does the man who sets up his ego, or flesh, or 
power as the goal of life. The Crucifixion sinned the second 
way, being anti-God. The first consists of what might be called 
the "hot" sins, in the sense that they are inspired by passion; 
the second consists of the "cold" sins, for example, blasphemy, 
deliberate attempts to destroy all vestiges of God and moral- 
ity. Killing a body is not so serious as killing one's soul: "fear 
him more who has the power to destroy body and soul in hell." 
(Matt. 10:28) The university professor and the newspaper 
editor who ridicule the Divine in order to purge it from the 
hearts, or the radio director who eliminates all prayers and 
substitutes antireligious poems: these are Satan's fifth column. 
Here is not just a refusal to acknowledge Goodness, but a pre- 
tense that Goodness is badness, or as Nietzsche said: "Evil, be 
thou my good." Such evil men said of Our Lord: "It is only 
through the power of Beelzebub, the prince of devils, that he 
casts the devils out." (Matt. 12:24) It is not the existence of 
God they deny, but His Essence, namely, that He is Goodness. 
The old atheism denied God's existence; the new atheism 
denies His Essence, and therefore becomes militant against 
His existence. It is worse to say: "God is evil," than to say: 
"God is not." To call Love a devil is to reject the very possi- 
bility of Love's forgiveness. 

Sin, in all its forms, is the deliberate eviction of Love from 
the soul. Sin is the enforced absence of Divinity. Hell is that 
absence of God made permanent by a last act of the will. 
God does not do anything to the soul to punish it; the soul 
produces hell out of its very self. If we excluded air from the 
lungs as we exclude love from the soul, the lungs could not 
[233] blame God because we got red in the face or fainted, or 
our lungs collapsed. What the absence of air is to the lungs, that 
the absence of love in the soul is to the soul. On this earth 
want of love makes people red; in the next life want of love 
makes a red hell. 

The great problem is now how to save these two groups, 
those who have taken the Gift and forgotten the Giver, and 
those who have rejected both Gift and Giver. 

The answer is to be found in the attention that a mother 
would give to her little son with the stomach-ache. It is not 
in the nature of a mother to abandon those children who hurt 
themselves by their own folly. Immediately, she manifests 
what might be called "the mutual relation between con- 
traries," for example, the rich helping the poor, the healthy 
nursing the sick, the learned instructing the ignorant, and 
the sinless helping the sinful. There is something about moth- 
erhood which is synonymous with the maximum of clem- 
ency, and which prevents us from being conquered in advance 
through despair and remorse by giving us hope in the midst 
of sins. It is the nature of a human mother to be the inter- 
cessor for the child before the justice of the father, pleading 
for her little one, asking that the child be dismissed, or saying 
that he is not understood, or that he should be given another 
chance, or that, in the future, he will improve. A mother's 
heart is always full of pity for the erring and the sinner and 
the fallen. No child ever offended a father without offending 
a mother, but the father concentrates more on the crime, the 
mother on the person. 

Now, as a physical mother watches over an ailing child, so 
does Mary watch over her erring children. The one word 
never associated with her is Justice. She is only its mirror. 
[234] As the Mother of the Judge, she can influence His Justice; 
as Mother of Mercy, she can obtain mercy. Twice in history, 
kings of power promised half their kingdom to a woman: once 
when a woman solicited a king by her vice; once when a 
woman inspired a king by her virtue. King Herod, seeing his 
stepdaughter Salome dance, and being less intoxicated by 
the wine than by the lasciviousness of her as a whirling 
dervish, said: "Ask me whatever you will and I will give it 
to you, even though it be half of my kingdom." Salome con- 
sulted with her mother, Herodias, who, recalling that John 
the Baptist had condemned her divorce and remarriage, said 
to her daughter: "Ask for the head of John the Baptist on 
a dish." Thus John lost his head. But it is always better to 
lose one's head in John's way than in Herod's! 

The other king was Ahasuerus, who had made the dust of 
the land run red with the blood of the Jews. Esther, the beau- 
tiful Jewish maid, fasted before petitioning him to have mercy 
on her people; the fasting made her more lovely than before. 
The cruel tyrant, as cruel as Herod, seeing the loveliness of 
the woman said: "Ask me whatever you desire and I will give 
it to you though it be half my Kingdom." Unlike Salome, she 
asked not for death but for life, and her people were spared. 
Woman is by nature the temptress. But she can tempt not only 
toward evil like Salome, but to goodness as did Esther. 

Through the centuries the Church Fathers have said that 
Our Lord keeps for Himself half His regency, which is the 
Kingdom of Justice, but the other half He gives away to His 
Mother, and this is the Kingdom of Mercy. At the Marriage 
Feast of Cana, Our Lord said that the hour of His Passion was 
not yet at hand - the hour when Justice would be fulfilled. 
But His Blessed Mother begged Him not to wait, but to be 
[235] merciful to those who were in need, and to supply their 
wants by changing water into wine. Three years later, when not 
the water was changed into wine, but the wine into blood, 
He fulfilled all Justice, but surrendered half His Kingdom 
by giving to us that which no one else could give, namely, His 
Mother: "Behold thy Mother." Whatever mothers do for 
sons, that His Mother would do, and more. 

Throughout all history the Blessed Mother has been the 
link between two contraries: the eternal punishment of hell 
for sinners and the universal unlimited Redemption of Her 
Divine Son. These extremes cannot be reconciled except by 
mercy. Not that Mary pardons - for she cannot - but she 
intercedes as a mother does in the face of the justice of the 
father. Without Justice, mercy would be indifference to 
wrong: without mercy, Justice would be vindictive. Mothers 
obtain pardon and forgiveness for their sons without ever 
giving them the feeling of "being let off." Justice makes the 
wrongdoer see the injustice in the violation of a law; mercy 
makes him see it in the sufferings and misery he caused those 
who love him deeply. 

An evil man who is let off will probably commit the same 
sin again, but there is no son saved from punishment by his 
mother's tears who did not resolve never to sin again. Thus, 
mercy in a mother is never separated from a sense of justice. 
The blow may not fall, but the effect is the same as if it had. 

What mysterious power is it that a mother has over a son 
that, when he confesses his guilt, she strives to minimize it, 
even when it shocks her heart at the perversity of the revela- 
tion? The impure are rarely tolerant of the pure, but only the 
pure can understand the impure. The more saintly the soul of 
a confessor, the less he dwells on the gravity of the offense, 
[236] and the more on the love of the offender. Goodness always 
lifts the burden of conscience, and it never throws a stone to 
add to its weight. There are many sheaves in the field which 
the priests and sisters and the faithful are unable to gather in. 
It is Mary's role to follow these reapers to gather the sinners 
in. As Nathaniel Hawthorne said: "I have always envied the 
Catholics that sweet, sacred, Virgin Mother who stands be- 
tween them and the Deity, intercepting somewhat His awful 
splendor, but permitting His love to stream on the worship- 
per more intelligibly to human comprehension through the 
medium of a woman's tenderness." 

Mary will assist us if we but call upon her. There is not a 
single unhappy soul or sinner in the world who calls upon 
Mary who is left without mercy. Anyone who invokes her 
will have the wounds of his soul healed. Sin is a crime of 
lesè-majesté; but the Blessed Mother is the refuge. St. Anselm 
said that she "was made the Mother of God more for sinners 
than for the just" - which could hardly be doubted, since Our 
Lord Himself said that He came not to save the just, but to 
call sinners to repent. 

St. Ephrem calls the Blessed Mother the "charter of free- 
dom from sin," and even dubs her the protectress of those 
who are on their way to damnation: Patroncinatrix damna- 
torum. St. Augustine said of her: "What all the other saints 
can do with your help, you alone can do without them." 

There are some sorrows in life which are peculiar to a 
woman and which a man cannot understand. That is why, 
as there was an Adam and an Eve in the fall, there had to be 
a new Adam and a new Eve in redemption. Fittingly, there- 
fore, is a Woman summoned to stand at the foot of the Cross 
where Our Lord redeemed us from our sins. He also redeemed 
[237] her. Our Lord could feel all agonies mentally, but the 
agonies and griefs that only woman can feel, Mary could suffer 
in union with Him. One of these is the shame of the unmarried 
mother. Not of course that Mary was that, for she was es- 
poused to Joseph; but until the angel told Joseph that she 
conceived by the Holy Spirit, Mary had to share the bleeding 
heart of all her sisters who bear within themselves a child 
born out of wedlock. Mothers whose sons are called to war 
call on Mary, who also had a Son summoned to the war 
against the principalities and powers of evil. She even 
went onto the battlefield with her Son and received a soul- 

Mothers who have children born with an affliction, crippled 
in body, broken in mind, mute in speech, or who have length- 
ening shadows of impending death or disaster hanging over 
them and their children, can take their worries to Mary who 
lived under an incoming tide of sorrow. She knows what it 
is to have a child who will be a daily cross. At His Birth, Magi 
brought myrrh for His burial signifying that He was destined 
for death. When He was forty days old, the aged Simeon told 
her that her Son would be a sign to be contradicted, which 
meant crucifixion, and that the lance that pierced His Heart 
would pierce her own soul! There is now no excuse. There are 
some who say they would be "hypocrites" if they came to 
God. They would be hypocrites, if they said they were pre- 
pared to be clean when they intended to go on being dirty. 
But they would not be hypocrites if they admitted they were 
sinful, and really wanted to be children of God. 

Those whose spirituality is harsh, whose Christianity is 
cold, who know Christ but who are severe in judgment, with 
a touch of bigotry and hatred of fellowman, should realize 
[238] that their condition comes from a lack of Mary's Motherhood. 
As, in the physical order, a man who grows up without the 
loving attention of a mother misses something that makes 
for gentleness and sweetness of character, so in the spiritual 
order, those who grow up in Christianity without Mary lack 
a joy and happiness that come to those only who know no 
mother. Orphans of the Spirit! Your Mother lives! 

Throughout the Christian centuries those who were bur- 
dened with guilt and afraid to approach God, or who had not 
come to the Divinity of Christ, or who, having come, were 
so stricken with shame that they fell back into sadness, have 
had recourse to the Blessed Mother to lift them out of the 
abyss. Typical of this spirit are two modern writers. W. T. 
Titterton, the poet and essayist, on the occasion of Shaw's 
death wrote: "Shaw was great friends with a Reverend 
Mother who prayed daily for his conversion. Once he con- 
fessed to her his difficulty: he could not believe in the Di- 
vinity of Christ. 'But, he said, patting her shoulder, 'I think 
His Mother will see me through'." Shaw put his finger on 
the sublime truth that those who are not yet ready to accept 
Christ as the mediator between God and man will come to 
that truth through Mary, who will act as the mediatrix be- 
tween widowed souls and Christ, until they finally come to 
His embrace. 

Marcel Proust says that when he was a young man he went 
to his mother and recollected many of the evil things which 
he had done in his ignorance and passion, and which his own 
mother could not understand, but to which she listened with- 
out understanding. He said that somehow or other she 
lessened their importance with a gentleness and compassion 
and lifted the weight of his conscience. But how can Mary 
[239] know what the un-Christed suffer, or sympathize with the 
bleeding soul-wounds of the sinners? As the pure lily rests 
immaculate on a foul pond, so Mary came to know what sin 
is in a moment which matched, in her love's capacity as a 
creature, what Our Lord felt on the Cross. 

What is sin? Sin is separation from God and an aliena- 
tion from love. But Mary lost God, too! She lost him not 
morally but physically, during those seemingly endless three 
days when Her Divine Son was only twelve years of age. 
Searching, questioning, knocking from door to door, pleading 
and begging, Mary came to know something of the despair- 
ing emptiness of those who have not yet found Christ. This 
was the moment of her widowhood of the soul, when Mary 
came to know how every sinner feels - not because she sinned, 
but because she felt the effect of sin, namely, the loss of God 
and the loneliness of the soul. To every soul who is lost, she 
can still truly address the same words: "Son, we have sought 
thee sorrowing." 

We have no record of it in the Gospels, but I have always 
believed that Judas, both on the way to betray Our Lord and 
after the betrayal, going with a halter over his arm to hang 
himself on an aspen tree, deliberately went out of his way to 
avoid contact with the Mother of Jesus. Probably no one in 
the history of the world would Our Blessed Mother more 
willingly have pardoned than Judas, though he did send her 
Son to the Cross. When Our Lord gave us half His Kingdom 
in His Mother, He made it almost impossible for any soul to 
go to hell who ever pleads to her to intercede to her Divine 
Son. If Judas is in hell, it is because he deliberately turned 
his back on Mary when he went out to hang himself. If he is 
not in hell, it is because in that split second, as he looked from 
[240] his hill to the Hill of Calvary, he saw there the Mother with 
her Divine Son and died with this prayer on his lips: "Mother 
of sinners, pray for me!" 

Our Blessed Mother shows mercy to all souls because she 
has a right to do so. She accepted Motherhood not as a per- 
sonal title, but as the representative of all humanity. Her 
consent is, to the new order of grace, what the consent of Eve 
was to the fallen humanity. Therefore, she had some claim on 
the redemptive merits of her Son. What is more, her Divine 
Son affirmed it, for the last act of Our Lord on earth to which 
He visibly demanded our adherence was his plea to take His 
Mother as our Mother: "Behold thy Mother." A child may 
forget a mother, but a mother never forgets a child. She is 
not only the Mother of Jesus, she is also the Mother of all 
whom He redeemed. "Shall a woman forget the child of her 
womb?" But beyond all sweet remembrance is the consoling 
human fact that a mother embraces and fondles that child 
who falls and hurts himself most often. 

With St. Bernard the Church has repeated the prayer to 
Mary as the Queen of Mercy: "Remember, O Most Gracious 
Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy 
protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession, was 
left unaided." As Christ intercedes for us at the throne of His 
Father, so Mary intercedes for us to her Divine Son. But this 
role of mercy she cannot fulfill unless there are those who 
are miserable. 

In her Revelations, St. Bridget quotes the Blessed Mother as 
saying: "The people of earth have need of a triple mercy: 
sorrow for their sins, penance to atone for them, and strength 
to do good." And Mary promised these mercies to all who 
would call upon her. As the Son shows the Father the Wounds 
[241] He received in saving man in the Battle of Calvary, so Mary 
shows the body pierced with seven swords in the same Siege 
against Sin. No sinner in the world is beyond the hope of re- 
demption; no one is so cursed that he cannot obtain pardon 
if he but calls on Mary. It is necessary to be in the state of 
sanctifying grace to be saved, but it is not necessary to be in 
the state of grace to call on Mary. As she was the representa- 
tive of sinful humanity who gave consent to the Redemption, 
so she is still the representative of those who are not yet in 
the state of friendship with God. It is easy for the brothers 
of Christ to call on the Father, but it is not easy for the stran- 
gers and the enemies. This role Mary plays. She is not only the 
Mother of those who are in the state of grace, but the Queen 
of those who are not. The true name of Satan is "Without 
Mercy" (Hosea 1:6, 8), one whose nature cannot ask for par- 
don. He first tries to convince a soul that evil is not evil; then, 
when evil is done, he tries to convince it that there is no hope. 
Thus does presumption beget despair. Satan refuses the hu- 
miliation of pardon both for himself and for others, but Mary 
asks pardon even for those who, as agents of Satan, would 
recrucify Her Son. Her name is the antithesis of Satan: "One 
who has received Mercy" (Hosea 2:1 ), and therefore one who 
dispenses it. 

St. Gemma Galgani, of modern times, one day was interced- 
ing with Our Lord for the soul of a certain sinner. As Gemma 
pleaded for mercy, the Saviour recounted one by one his 
frightful and abnormal sins. After the Saviour had refused 
three times, St. Gemma Galgani said: "Then I shall ask your 
Mother." Our Lord answered: "In that case, I cannot refuse." 
An hour later the sinner in question came to the confessor of 
the saint and made his full confession. 

Sweet girlhood without guile, 
The extreme of God's creative energy; 
Sunshiny Peak of human personality; 
The world's sad aspirations' one Success; 
Bright Blush, that sav'st our shame from shamelessness; 
Chief Stone of stumbling; Sign built in the way 
To set the foolish everywhere a-bray; 
Hem of God's robe, which all who touch are heal'd; 
To which the outside Many honour yield 
With a reward and grace 
Unguess'd by the unwash'd boor that hails Him to His face, 
Spurning the safe, ingratiant courtesy 
Of suing Him by thee: 
Ora pro me!  

(Coventry Patmore, "The Child's Purchase," from I Sing of a Maiden) 

Mary and the Sword 

[243]One of the penalties of original sin was that a woman 
should bring forth her children in sorrow: 

Nothing begins and nothing ends 
That is not paid with moan - 
For we are born in others' pain 
And perish in our own. 

But the heart, too, has its agony, for although the new life 
is lived apart from the mother, the heart always keeps that 
new life as its own. What is disowned in the independence of 
a child is owned in the love of a mother-heart. Her body for 
a time follows her heart, as to each child at her breast she 
speaks the language of a natural eucharist: "Take and 
eat. This is my body; this is my blood." The time finally comes 
for the soul of the child to be nourished in the Divine Eu- 
charist by the Lord Who said: "Take and eat. This is My 
Body. This is My Blood." Even then the mother heart pur- 
sues, never ceasing to love the life that changed her from a 
woman to a mother. 

The other side of the picture is: as every woman begets a 
child, so every child begets a mother. The helplessness of the 
[244] infant, in language stronger than words, solicits the mother, 
saying: "Be sweet, be self-sacrificing, be merciful." A thou- 
sand temptations of a mother are crushed in that one radiating 
thought: "What of my child?" The child summons to duty 
before he can speak duty. He bids the mother think twice 
before leaving a father to start a new pseudo-home. The child 
makes the fatigue and weariness of the mother, as he makes 
her joy in his success and her agonies in his falls from grace. 
The child brings the impact of another life, and no mother 
escapes his vital rays. 

Applying this to Our Blessed Mother, not only did she beget 
a Son, but the Son also begot her. This is the connection be- 
tween Bethlehem and Calvary. She gave Him Sonship, but He 
also gave her Motherhood. At the crib she became His 
Mother; at the Cross she was called the "Woman." No Son in 
the world but Christ could ever make His Mother the mother 
of all men, because the flesh is possessive and exclusive. Mak- 
ing her the Woman or the Universal Mother was like a new 
creative word. He made her twice: once for Himself, and once 
for us in His Mystical Body. She made Him as the new Adam; 
He now installs her as the new Eve, the Mother of mankind. 

This transfer of His Mother to men was, appropriately, at 
the moment He redeemed them. That word "Woman" from 
the Cross was the second Annunciation, and John was the 
second Nativity. What joy went with her mothering Him! 
What anguish went with His Mothering her! Mary's mind was 
filled with the thought of Divinity in the stable; but at Gol- 
gotha it is sinners that are uppermost in her mind, and she 
now begins their mothering. The curse of Eve hangs heavily 
on Mary: "Thou shalt bring forth children in sorrow." When 
we contrast the great difference between Her Divine Son 
and us, her sorrow, from our point of view, must have been 
[245] not only: "How can I live without Him?" but also, "How 
can I live with them?" This was the miracle of substitution, for 
how can one be satisfied with straggling rays when one has 
been with the sun? The humility of which she sang at the 
Magnificat was not only a confession of unworthiness to be 
the Mother of God, but also the admission now of her readi- 
ness to be the Mother of man. It was a grief not to die with 
Him; it was a greater grief to live on with us. 

Tradition indicates that Mary was pierced seven times 
with swords of sorrow and that these constitute her Seven 
Sorrows. The position we will take is not that there were Seven 
Swords, but Seven Thrusts of the one Sword, and the Sword 
that pierced her soul was Christ Himself. This Sword has a 
double edge: one edge ran into His Own Sacred Heart, the 
other into her Immaculate Heart. How is Christ a sword? 
First of all, the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us the word of 
God is a two-edged sword. "God's word to us is something 
alive, full of energy; it can penetrate deeper than any two- 
edged sword, reaching the very division between soul and 
spirit, between joints and marrow, quick to distinguish every 
thought and design in our hearts. From him, no creature can 
be hidden; everything lies bare, everything is brought face 
to face with him, this God to whom we must give our ac- 
count" (Heb. 4:12, 13) The word here is undoubtedly Scrip- 
ture and the living voice of the Church. But the root and 
source is the Divine Word Who is Christ Himself. St Thomas 
in his Commentary on this passage makes that identification. 
Furthermore, St. Thomas quotes St. Ambrose as giving the 
same interpretation: "For the Word of God is living and ef- 
fectual and more piercing than any two-edged sword." 

One edge of this sword, to speak metaphorically, Christ 
ran into His Own Sacred Heart, in the sense that He willed 
[246] all the sufferings from Bethlehem to Calvary. He was the 
cause of His own death, St. Thomas tells us, and in two ways: 
directly, by being in such antagonism to the world that the 
world could not endure His Presence. Simeon foretold this 
by saying He was "a sign to be contradicted." The essence of 
evil is not robbing, stealing, murdering; it is the crucifixion 
of Goodness, the elimination of the Moral Principle of life, 
so that one may sin without remorse and with impunity. In- 
directly, Christ was the cause of His own death, as St. Thomas 
tells us, "by not preventing it when He could do so; just as 
one person is said to drench another by not closing the win- 
dow through which it is raining; and in this way Christ was 
the cause of His own Passion and Death." He could have used 
His Power and hurled thunderbolts against Pilate and Herod; 
He could have appealed to the masses with the magnetism of 
His Word; He could have changed nails into rosebuds and a 
crown of thorns into a golden diadem; He could have come 
down from the Cross when He was challenged to do so. 
But "since Christ's soul did not repel the injury inflicted on 
His Body, but willed His corporeal nature to succumb to such 
an injury, He is said to have laid down His life or died volun- 
tarily," St. Thomas tells us. 

The Sword, therefore, was His Own Will to die, that we 
might be saved from the double death. But He also willed that 
His Mother should be as closely associated with Him as any 
human person could be associated with a Divine Person. Pius 
X declared that the bond between them was so intimate that 
the words of the Prophet could be applied to both: Defecit 
in dolore vita mea, et anni mei in gemitibus. (Ps. 30:11) If 
it be granted with Leo XIII that, "God willed that the grace 
and truth which Christ won for us should be bestowed on us 
[247] in no other way than through Mary," then she, too, had 
to will cooperation in Redemption, as Christ willed it as the 
Redeemer Himself. Christ willed that she should suffer with 
Him, some theologians say, per modum unius. If He willed 
His death, He willed her Sorrows. And if He willed to be a 
"Man of Sorrows," He willed that she be the "Mother of Sor- 
rows." But it was no imposed will; she accepted it all in her 
original Fiat in the Annunciation. The Sword He plunged 
into His Heart, He, with her cooperation, plunged into her 
own. He could hardly have done this if she were not His 
Mother, and if they were not in a spiritual sense "two in one 
flesh," "two in one mind." The sorrows of His Passion were 
His, but His Mother considered them as her own, too, for 
this is the meaning of Compassion. 

There were not Seven Swords, but only one, and it plunged 
into two Hearts. The Seven Sorrows are as seven thrusts of the 
Sword Christ, one edge for Him as Redeemer, the other edge 
for Her as the Mother of the Redeemer. Christ is the Sword 
of His own Passion; He is the Sword of her compassion. Pius 
XII says that she, as the true Queen of Martyrs, more than any 
of the faithful, filled up for His Body the Church the sufferings 
that were wanting to the Passion of Christ! 

This was the first reason why God permitted her Sorrows: 
that she might be the first after the Redeemer Himself to con- 
tinue His Passion and Death in His Mystical Body. "Our Lord 
warned: "As they hated me, so will they hate you." If the law 
that Good Friday is the condition of an Easter Sunday binds 
all the faithful, then it must with greater rigor bind her who 
is the Mother of the Savior. An unsuffering Christ who ig- 
nored sin would be reduced to the level of an ethical reformer, 
like Buddha or Confucius. An unsuffering Madonna to the 
[248] suffering Christ would be a loveless Madonna. Who is there 
who loves, who does not want to share the sorrows of the be- 
loved? Since Christ loved mankind so much as to want to 
die to expiate their guilt, then He should also will that His 
Mother, who lived only to do His Will, should also be wrapped 
in the swaddling bands of His griefs. 

But she also had to suffer for our sakes as well as His. As 
Our Lord learned obedience by which He suffered, so Mary 
had to learn motherhood, not by appointment, but by ex- 
perience with the burdens of the human heart. The rich can- 
not console the poor unless they become less rich for the sake 
of the poor; Mary cannot wipe away human tears unless she 
herself has been their fountain. The title "Mother of the 
Afflicted" had to be earned in the school of affliction. She does 
not expiate for sins; she does not redeem; she is not a saviour, 
but by His Will and by her own, she is so much bound up with 
Him that His Passion would have been entirely different had 
there not been her Compassion. 

He also plunged the sword into her own soul, in the sense 
that He called her to be a cooperator with Him, as the new 
Eve in the regeneration of humanity. When the mother of 
James and John asked political preferment for her sons, they 
were asked if they could drink of His chalice. That was the 
condition of being in His Kingdom. What draining of the 
chalice, then, shall be the condition of being the Mother of 
the Crucified! St. Paul tells us that we cannot be partakers of 
His Glory unless we partake also of His Crucifixion. If, then, 
the sons of Mary are not exempt from the law of sacrifice, 
certainly Mary herself, who is the Mother of God, shall be 
less exempt. Hence Stabat Mater pleads that Mary's compas- 
sion with Christ be shared with us: 

These five wounds of Jesus smitten, 
Mother in my heart be written 
Deeply as in thine they be; 

Thou my Saviour's Cross who bearest 
Thou thy Son's rebuke who sharest, 
Let me share them both with thee. 

The Seven Thrusts of the Sword are Simeon's Prophecy, the 
Flight into Egypt, the Three Days' Loss, meeting Jesus with 
His Cross, the Crucifixion, the taking down from the Cross, 
the burial of Jesus. 


The initial thrust was the prophecy of Simeon. The Divine 
Child, only forty days old, is brought to the Temple; no sooner 
is the Light of the World laid in Simeon's arms than he breaks 
out into his Swan Song: he is ready to die because he has seen 
the Saviour. After foretelling that the Child is a sign to be 
contradicted, he tells Mary: "Thy own soul a sword shall 
pierce." Note that Simeon did not say that the sword would 
pierce her body. The lance of the centurion might do that to 
the Heart of Christ, and His Body might be so bruised that 
"even the bones of His Body could be numbered," but the 
Virginal Body would be spared an outer assault. As in the 
Annunciation when she conceived, unlike human love 
the ecstasy was first in her soul and then in her body; so now 
in her compassion, the pains of martyrdom are first in her 
soul, and then only in her sympathetic flesh, which echoed 
to every scourge that fell on her Son's back or pierced His 
Hands and Feet. 

The Sword is only forty days old, and yet He knows how 
[250] to unsheath it. From that moment on, every time she would 
lift infant hands, she would see fall across them the shadow 
of nails. If her Heart was to be one with His, then like Him, 
she must see every sunset as a blood-red image of the Pas- 
sion. In one sense, her dead would not be buried, as the Sword 
in her own soul would not be plucked out. Simeon threw 
away the sheath as her own Child flashed the blade. Every 
pulse in His tiny wrist would sound like the echo of an on- 
coming hammer. But her sorrow was not what she suffered, 
but what He had to suffer. That was the tragedy. Love never 
thinks of itself. If He belonged to sinners, so would she. 

The Saviour's edge of the sword was telling His Mother, 
through Simeon, that He was to be a victim for sin; her edge 
was knowing that she would be a Trustee of His Life until 
the hour of sacrifice. With one word Simeon foretells His 
Crucifixion and her sorrow. No sooner is this young Life 
launched, than an old man foretells the shipwreck. A Mother 
has only forty days of embracing her Infant Child when she 
sees the shadow of a contradiction thrown across His life. 
She had no chalice of sin to drink, no cup of the Father's 
bitterness such as her Son would drink in the Garden, and yet 
He holds the cup to her lips. 

The enmity of the world is the lot of everyone closely asso- 
ciated with Jesus. How few are the converts to the faith who 
have not felt the scorn and bigotry of the world that protests 
their leaving the mediocrity of humanism for the high level 
of the supernatural. Our Lord speaking of the opposition 
they would evoke said: "I came to bring the sword, to set 
father against son, and mother against daughter." If a convert 
feels that contradiction, then how much worse shall Mary, 
who mothered the Cross-bearer! Truly, He came to bring the 
[251] Sword, and His Mother is the first to feel it, not in the sense 
of an unwilling victim, but rather one whose free Fiat made 
her united with Him in the act of Redemption. If you were 
the only person who had eyes in a world full of the blind, 
would you not be their staff? If kindness before the wounded 
binds up the sores, then shall virtue in the face of sin seek 
to be dispensed from cooperation with Him who wipes out 
the guilt? If Mary, who was sinless, would with joy accept a 
Sword from Divine sinlessness, then who of us, who are guilty 
of sin, shall ever complain if the same Jesus permits us a 
sorrow for the remission of our sins? 

O Mary pierced with sorrow 
Remember, reach and save 
The soul that goes tomorrow 
Before the God that gave; 
As each was born of woman 
For each, in utter need, 
True comrade and brave foreman 
Madonna, intercede. 

(Rudyard Kipling, "Song before Action," from I Sing of a Maiden)


The second piercing by the Sword was the summoning of 
His Mother to share sorrow with all the exiles and the dis- 
placed persons of the world of whom He Himself was the 
first born. The Dictator Herod, fearful lest He Who came to 
bring a golden crown would steal a tinsel one, sought to kill 
the Infant Jesus not yet two years old. Two swords are now 
swinging: one wielded by Herod who would kill the Prince 
of Peace to have the false peace of the reign of Power; the 
other by the Sword Himself, Who would have His Own 
[252] Mother see the Exodus reversed, as He now goes back 
to the land from whence He once led His own people out. And 
Joseph is still charged with guarding the Living Bread! Hearts 
could bear sorrows more readily if they could be assured that 
they came directly from God. That her Divine Son should 
have used Simeon as the instrument of the first thrust was 
understandable for "the Holy Spirit was in him." But this 
second thrust used the instrumentality of wicked men. How 
often we feel that God has abandoned us when He allows the 
perversity of men to grieve us, and yet Divine Omnipotence 
is in Mary's arms and still allows it! The Cross seems to be 
double-crossed when it does not come from Him, but in such 
cases it is not our patience that is tried, but our humility and 
our faith. And yet if the Son of God in His human nature and 
His Blessed Mother did not both feel the tragedy of millions 
in our civilization pursued by other Herods; if they did not 
share the experience of violent uprootings from homeland 
and that forced grafting into the wild olives of Siberia; if both 
the new Adam and the new Eve were not the first displaced 
persons of Christian history, then refugees would raise their 
fists to heaven and say, "God does not know what I suffer," 
or "No woman ever bore such grief." 

It was for the sake of womanhood that Mary had to suffer, 
with Jesus, the heart-rendings of an unhospitable earth. That 
primal gift of the Immaculate Conception and her Virginity 
were walls of partition between herself and the evil world. 
But now the Sword was cleaving the wall, breaking it down, 
allowing her to feel what He Himself would feel in the 
prime of His Life. She, too, must have her Pilates and her 
Herods! As a priest carrying the Blessed Sacrament to the 
sick would defend it unto the shedding of his blood, so Mary 
[253] carrying Emmanuel was learning that to be His Mother meant 
to suffer with Him, that she may reign with Him. Simeon's 
word touched her only internally; Herod's wrath, the Egyp- 
tian flight shifted the battle against evil to the outside, as Her 
Son would later move from the Agony of a Garden to the 
Crucifixion on a Hill. One word from that Babe at her breast 
could have silenced all Herods from that day until Stalin or 
Mao Tse-tung, but that word He would not speak. The Word 
was now a Sword. And yet, how inexpressibly more poignant 
must have been the grief of her Infant Son, Who, with His 
Infinite Mind, knew and willed all that was transpiring! A 
mother watching surgery on her infant suffers for the child 
and yet endures it for a greater future good; here the Son is 
the surgeon who, with a two-edged sword, pierces first His 
Own Heart before He pierces that of His Mother, as if to 
blunt the piercing when it touches her. The Word is a two- 
edged sword! Were it but single-edged, then He would hold 
the handle and only she would feel the blade, which would 
be cruel. But here nothing enters into her soul that has not 
first entered into His. He willed the tragedy He would suffer 
from the hands of evil men. She willed it, too, but first because 
it was His Will that, as He would undo Adam, so should she 
undo Eve. 

Mary knew that the Infant in her arms had not yet raised 
His Voice against evil, but she nevertheless sees all the bigots 
and tyrants, dictators and communists, the intolerant and lib- 
ertines, rage and storm against Him. He was as light as a 
feather in her arms, but He was heavier than a planet on their 
hearts "set for the fall and the resurrection of many." A 
Babe was hated! That was the point of the second thrust of 
the Sword. "As they have hated Me, so will they hate you." 
[254] The hatred of men against Him she would feel as her very 
own! But, as He bore love to those who hated, so did she. 
She would go down to Egypt a thousand times and amidst 
a thousand fears, could she but save one single man from com- 
mitting a single sin for His sake as well as God's. 

Now that Mary is crowned in Heaven, as she looks down on 
the earth, she sees millions of men still banishing the Creator 
out of their lands, and driving Him out of their hearts. Many 
men do not spend most of their time making a living; they 
spend most of it flying from God! He, on His side, will not 
destroy their freedom., and they on their side, will not choose 
Him. But as Mary in this second sorrow was not angry with 
the wicked, but unhappy for their sakes, so now in Heaven 
her compassion and love of sinners almost seems to rise with 
the measure of their sin. The more closely a soul is united 
with Jesus, the more it loves sinners. A patient can be so sick 
with fever that in his delirium he believes himself to be well; 
a sinner can be so engrossed in sin as to believe himself to 
be good. Only the healthy really know the sickness of the 
patient, and only those without sin know the gravity of sin 
and seek to cure it. Both Jesus and Mary in the Flight to 
Egypt experienced in their goodness Infinite in the one, 
finite in the other the two psychic effects of sins: fear and 
flight. Unless fear is overcome in forgiveness, it ends in the 
persecution of others; unless escapism is conquered by a re- 
turn to God, it drowns itself in alcoholism, opiates, the bore- 
dom of excitement! Would that all the psychiatrists of the 
world knew that both these effects of sin are conquered not 
by self-indulgence in the flesh, but by love, which masters 
fear, and by penance, which arrests flight Our Lord and His 
Blessed Mother willingly suffered both these psychological 
[255] effects that sinning souls might be freed from them. The real 
"shock treatment" the guilty have not yet experienced is the 
shock of invoking a Woman with a Babe who will take them 
down to Egypt to eat the corn of tribulation and the wheat 
of penance! When the heart of man is not at home in Naz- 
areth, but in escape from Reality, it may still have hope; for 
the Madonna and the Child will meet it, even in its wild flight 
to the desert Egypts of this world. 


The Three Days' Loss of the Divine Child was the third 
thrust of the Sword. One edge went into His Own Soul as 
He hid from His Mother and His foster father to remind them, 
as He said, that He must be about "His Father's business." 
But since Heaven, too, plays hide and seek, the other edge of 
the Sword was the grief of Mary's loss and seeking. He was 
Hers, that is why she sought Him; He was on the business of 
Redemption, that was why He left her and went to the 
Temple. Not only was there a physical loss, but there was 
also a spiritual trial. "But the boy Jesus, unknown to his par- 
ents, continued His stay in Jerusalem" (Luke 2:43) Our 
Lord said: "What reason had you to search for me? Could you 
not tell that I must be in the place which belongs to 
my Father?" (Luke 2:49) "These words which he spoke to 
them were beyond their understanding." (Luke 2:50) Later 
on there would be another Three Days' Loss when the Body 
of Jesus would be laid in a tomb. This loss was a foretaste and 
prelude to that loss, as well as a shadow of the Three Years' 
Loss during His Public Ministry. 

Something now was hidden from Mary, in the sense that 
[256] she did not understand. This was not a mere negative 
ignorance but a privation, a deliberate hiding by her Son of 
the fullness of His purpose. She had her Dark Night of the 
Body in Egypt; she would now have her Dark Night of the 
Soul in Jerusalem. Spiritual darkness and desolation have al- 
ways been one of the trials of God's mystics. First it is His 
Body and Blood that is hid from her; now it is the brilliance 
of His Truth. If the second thrust companioned her with the 
displaced persons of the world, this third thrust would lift her 
into fellowship with the saints. The Cross was now casting 
its shadow on her soul! Not only her virginal body must pay 
dearly for the privilege of her Immaculate Conception, but 
also her soul must pay the cost of being the Seat of Wisdom. 

The two-edged sword affects both souls in the sweet beat 
of a rhythm. One day on Golgotha He will feel the pessimism 
of atheists, the despair of sinners, the loneliness of the selfish 
as He takes their own sins upon Him, and wraps up all their 
isolation in the one great cry: "My God, My God, why have 
You abandoned Me?" She, too, must experience that lone- 
liness and abandonment, not only in the physical loss of Christ, 
but also in the beclouding of all consolations. As, on the 
Cross, He would deny His human nature all the joys of His 
Divinity, so He would deny now to His Mother all the joys 
of His Father's business. If His edge of the Sword was aban- 
donment, her edge would be darkness. The Gospel says there 
was darkness over the earth when He uttered that cry from 
the Cross; so now night creeps into Mary's mind because the 
Son Himself willed the eclipse of the sun. He almost seemed 
to question her right to seek Him as He asks: "What reason 
had you to search for Me?" (Luke 2:49. ) As He on the Cross, 
suspended between earth and Heaven, would feel abandoned 
[257] by God and rejected by men, so now she with but one word 
from the Sword is as utterly "abandoned" by One Who is both 
God and man. 

Darkness in the saints is not the same as darkness in the 
sinners. In the former, there is no light, but love; in the latter, 
there is night without love. It is very likely that this mystical 
darkness, which the Sword drove into Mary's soul, gave rise to 
such heroic acts of love as to raise her to new Tabors she 
never experienced before. Light can sometimes be so bright 
as to blind! Mary's failure to understand the word that was 
spoken to her was due less to the defect of light than to its ex- 
cess. Human reason reaches a point where it cannot describe 
or explain what happens to the heart. Even human love in its 
most ecstatic moments is speechless. Reason can understand 
words, but it cannot understand the Word. The Gospel here 
tells us that what Mary did not understand was the Word 
that was spoken. How hard to understand the Word when it 
is broken into words! She did not understand, because the 
Word lifted her out of the one abyss of reason, to the other 
unimaginable abyss of the Divine Mind. At such points, Di- 
vine Wisdom in its human expressions compels a confession 
of ignorance. It cannot tell its secret, as St. Paul would not 
tell his vision of the third heaven. Words themselves were in- 
adequate to express fully the meaning of the Word. 

To prove that this darkness was unlike ignorance, the Gos- 
pel adds: "His Mother kept in her heart the memory of all 
this." (Luke 2:51. ) Her soul would keep the Word, her heart 
the words. He Who by His words seemed to disown her, now 
owns her, not only by keeping the honey of the message in the 
hive of her heart, but also by going down to Nazareth to be 
subject to her. 

[258] The Divine Sword is no longer using human instruments 
like Simeon and Herod to brandish it. Twelve years of age, 
He is old enough to use it Himself. In this sorrow both His 
Natures were fastening upon her to make her a co-Redernptrix 
under His causality: His human nature in the physical loss, 
His Divine Nature in the Dark Night of her soul. In the An- 
nunciation she asks a question of an angel: "How shall this 
be, seeing I know not man?" Now she addresses the God-man 
Himself calling Him "Son" and asking Him to explain and to 
justify Himself for what He has done. Here was a supreme 
consciousness that she was the Mother of God. There is al- 
ways a great familiarity with God whenever there is great 
sanctity, and that familiarity is greater in sorrow than in joy. 
Saints favored by revelation from Our Lord picture Him as 
saying that this sorrow cost Him as much suffering as any other 
sorrow of His Life: in this, as in all other cases, He ran the 
Sword into His Sacred Heart before thrusting it into her 
Immaculate Heart, that He Himself might know the sorrow 
first. The grief that Our Lord would feel on leaving His 
Mother after the Three Hours on the Cross was here felt in 
anticipation during the Three Days' Loss. Those who sin 
without having the faith never feel the anxiety of those who 
sin with the faith. To have God, then lose Him, was Mary's 
edge of the sword; to be God, and hide from those who would 
never leave Him, was Our Lord's edge of the sword. Both 
felt the effects of sin in different ways: she felt the darkness 
of losing God; He felt the darkness of being lost. If her sorrow 
was a hell, His was the agony of making it. The bitterness of 
death is in her soul; the sadness of inflicting it is in His! 

As she became the Refuge of Sinners by knowing what it 
is to lose God and then find Him, so He became the Redeemer 
[259] of sinners by knowing the deliberateness, the willfulness, the 
resoluteness of those who wound the ones they love! She felt 
the creature losing the Creator; He felt the Creator losing the 
creature. Mary lost Jesus only in mystical darkness of the 
soul, not in the moral blackness of an evil heart. Her loss was 
a veiling of His Face, not a flight. But she does teach us that, 
when we lose God, we must not wait for Him to come back. 
We must go out in search of Him; and, to the joy of every 
sinner, She knows where He can be found! 


Eighteen years with God in human form had now been 
enjoyed by the Blessed Mother. If He could make such a 
transformation in three years in a publican named Matthew, 
what must have been the wisdom garnered in thirty years 
by her who was already the Immaculate Conception? The 
three years of teaching have passed, during which time we 
hear of her only once. Now the Sword is drawing closer to 
the hilt, as we pass from the four trials to Mary, seeing Jesus 
carrying the Cross. He drove the Sword into His own soul, 
and it appeared as a Cross on His Shoulders; He drove the 
Sword into her soul, and it became a Cross on her heart. 

As the fourth station of the Cross has it: "Jesus carrying the 
Cross, meets His Blessed Mother." Simeon had foretold that 
He would be a sign to be contradicted; now she sees that the 
sign of contradiction is the Cross. It was the advent of a long- 
dreaded evil. Every tree with its branches at right angles to 
the trunk had reminded her of the day when a tree would 
turn against its Creator and become His deathbed. Nails on 
the floor of a carpenter shop, crossbeams against a wall, arms 
[260] of a youth stretched out against the background of the setting 
sun after a day's labor, throwing the shadow of a cross on the 
opposite wall - all these were tokens, in advance, of this dread 
hour. But no matter how much one prepares for the misfor- 
tune of the innocent suffering for the guilty, the reality is al- 
ways sadder than one had imagined. Mary had practiced for 
this blow, but it seemed to strike in an undefended spot. No 
two sorrows are alike; each has a character of its own. Al- 
though it is the same sword, the difference is in the depth of 
its plunging; some new area of the soul is touched that before 
was virginal to grief. 

In each sorrow it is the Son Who is the executioner, but He 
always makes His edge the sharper. His edge was not only 
to bear the sins of man on that Cross, but also to permit her, 
who was innocent of it all, to share it as her own. But the 
Cross must have seemed heavier, not lighter, after His Mother 
saw it on His shoulders. How often Our Lord had said: "If any 
man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his
cross, and follow me. " (Matt. 16:24) If carrying one's own 
Cross is the condition of being Christ's follower, then the 
condition of being the Saviour's Mother is to carry the Saviour's 
Cross. The curious on the roadway to Calvary could see what 
He was carrying, but only He knew the load she bore. 

This world of ours has not only the dread of impending evil, 
as in Simeon's prophecy; the forced flight from a tyrant's 
wrath, as in the Flight into Egypt; the loneliness and anxiety 
of the sinners, as in the Three Days' Loss; but it has also the 
modern nightmare of terror. The just Abels slain by the Soviet 
Cains in Eastern Europe, the Chinese faithful living in mortal 
dread of execution, the countless multitudes panic-stricken 
[261] by the injustices of Communists, all these could have raised 
their eyes to Heaven as so much brass, did not one Man and 
one Woman feel the bitterness of that terror? And if only a 
Man Who is Innocent had felt the brunt of that Terror, then 
what would the woman say? Must there not be among their 
sex, too, one whose soul was so flooded with it that she also 
could bring consolation and hope? If God in the flesh had 
not been patient at mock trials, the Chinese priests would not 
now have the courage to walk in His footsteps. If a creature, 
in the face of a maddened mob, yelling for blood, had not 
shared that terror as her own, mankind would have said that 
a God-man could bear it because He is God, but a human 
could not. That is why our Divine Lord had to be her sword, 
with its fourth and agonizing thrust. 

With this fourth sorrow no word is spoken; one sees only the 
shimmering steel of the Sword, for terror is speechless. The 
Sword He drove into His Own Heart made Him shed drops 
of blood, like beads in fhe Rosary of Redemption over every 
inch of that Jerusalem roadway; but the Sword He drove 
into her soul made her identify herself with His Redemptive 
sufferings, forced her to tread the streets over her own Son's 
Blood. His wounds bled, hers did not. Mothers, seeing their 
sons suffer, wish it could be their own blood instead of their 
sons' that is shed. In her case, it was her blood that He shed. 
Every crimson drop of that blood, every cell of that flesh she 
had given to Him. Jesus had no human father. It was always 
her blood that He was shedding; it was only her blood that 
she was treading. 

Through such a sorrow as this, Mary won compassion for 
the terrified. The saints are most indulgent to others, who 
have been the least indulgent to themselves. Those who lead 
[262] easy, unmortified lives cannot speak the language of the af- 
frighted. So elevated above terror, they cannot bend to con- 
sole; if they do, it is with condescension and not compassion. 
But here Mary is already in the dust of human lives; she lives 
amidst terror, brain-washings, false accusations, libels, and 
all the other instruments of terror. The Immaculate is with 
the maculate, the sinless with the sinner, and she bears no 
rancor or bitterness toward them - only pity that they do not 
see or know how Loving that Love is that they are sending 
to His death. In her purity, Mary is on the mountaintop; in 
her compassion she is amidst curses, death cells, hangmen, 
executioners, and blood. A man may despair in his conscious- 
ness of sin from crying to God for forgiveness, but he can- 
not shrink from invoking the intercession of God's Mother 
who saw sinners do these things, and yet prayed for their 
forgiveness. If the good Holy Mother like Mary, who de- 
served to be spared evil, could nevertheless, in the special 
Providence of her Son, have a Cross, then how shall we, who 
deserve not to be ranked with her, expect to escape our meet- 
ing with a Cross? "What have I done to deserve this?" is a 
cry of pride. What did Jesus do? What did Mary do? Let 
there be no complaint against God for sending a Cross; let 
there only be wisdom enough to see that Mary is there making 
it lighter, making it sweeter, making it hers! 


The Cross unites not only the friends of Our Lord, but also 
His enemies. Only the mediocre survive. Our Lord was too 
good; He disturbed consciences; therefore, He must die. The 
thieves were too wicked; they disturbed false security of pos- 
[263] sessions; therefore, they must die. Our Lord Himself had 
said that as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the desert, 
so He would be lifted up. The meaning was this: when the 
Israelites were bitten by serpents, God ordered that they 
make a bronze serpent and hang it on a cross. All who looked 
at it were cured of the serpent's poison. The bronze serpent 
had the appearance of the serpent that stung, and yet was 
without venom. Christ is the bronze serpent inasmuch as He 
is in the likeness and the form of man, and yet without the 
venom of sin. All who look upon Him will be healed of sin 
that came from the serpent, who is the Devil. 

No one looked more closely at the Cross than the Blessed 
Mother. Our Lord drove one edge of the sword into His Own 
Heart, for no one took away His Life - "I lay it down of My- 
self." He was upright as a Priest, prostrate as a Victim, He 
delivered Himself up to the iniquitous will of man that man 
might do his worst. The worst thing man can do is kill God. 
By permitting man to summon forth his strongest armaments, 
and then defeating him by resurrection from the dead, Our 
Lord showed that evil would never be victorious again. 

The other edge of the sword went into Mary's soul, inas- 
much as she had been preparing the Priest to be a Victim. 
Her cooperation was so real and active that she stood at the 
foot of the Cross. In every representation of the Crucifixion 
Magdalene is prostrate; she is almost always at the feet of 
Our Lord. But Mary is standing; John was there, and it 
amazed him so much, that she was erect during these three 
hours, that he wrote the fact down in his Gospel. 

Eden was now being reversed. Three things cooperated 
in our fall: a disobedient man, Adam; a proud woman, Eve; 
and a tree. God takes the three elements that led to the de- 
[264] feat of man, and uses them as the instruments of victory: 
the obedient new Adam, Christ; the humble new Eve, Mary; 
and the tree of the Cross. 

The peculiarity of this sorrow is that the seven words that 
Our Lord spoke from the Cross were like seven notes in the 
funeral dirge. Our Blessed Mother is recorded as speaking 
only seven times in Sacred Scriptures. This does not mean 
that she spoke only that number of times, but that only seven 
of her utterances are recorded. Our Lord also spoke seven 
times from the Cross. As He spoke each word, her heart goes 
back to each of the words she herself had spoken, making the 
sorrow more intense as she saw the mystery of the "sign being 

The first word of Our Lord from the Cross was "Father, 
forgive them, for they know not what they do." It is not 
worldly wisdom that saves; it is ignorance. If the executioners 
had known the terrible thing they were doing when they re- 
jected the Son of man; if they had known that He was the 
Son of God and still gone on, deliberately putting Him to 
death, then there would have been no hope of salvation. It 
was only their ignorance of the blasphemy they were do- 
ing which brought them within the hearing of the word of 
forgiveness and the pale of pardon. 

The first word reminded Mary of her first word. It, too, was 
about ignorance. When the angel announced to her that she 
was to be the Mother of the Son of God, she asked; "How 
can this be, seeing I know not man?" Ignorance here meant 
innocence, virtue, virginity. The ignorance extolled is not 
ignorance of truth, but ignorance of evil. Our Lord would 
forgive sinners because they were ignorant, and not like the 
angels who in rebellion knew what they were doing, and 
[265] therefore went beyond redemption. Our Blessed Mother 
was blessed, because she was ignorant of man through the 
consecration of her virginity. 

Here the two words fuse into one grief: a sorrow on the 
part of Jesus, and a sorrow on the part of Mary, that men 
were not wise with that wisdom which is given only to chil- 
dren and the little ones, namely, knowing that Christ alone 
saves us from our sins. 

The second word of Our Lord was to the good thief. At 
first he blasphemed Our Lord, but then, hearing the word 
of forgiveness, and seeing the loveliness of His Mother, he 
responded to grace and envisaged his punishment as the "just 
reward of our crimes." The sight of the Man on the central 
Cross obeying the Father's Will inspired him to accept his 
cross as God's Will, and with it came a cry for pardon. Our 
Lord answered: "This day you shall be with Me in para- 

That beautiful acceptance of his sufferings in expiation for 
sin reminded Mary of her word to the angel. When she was 
told that she was to become the Mother of Him, Whom the 
fifty-third chapter of Isaias described as the "one struck by 
God and afflicted," she pronounced her second word: Fiat. 
"Be it done unto me according to thy word." Nothing matters 
in all the universe, except the doing of God's will, even though 
it brings a cross to a thief, and a sorrow to her at the foot of 
that Cross. Mary's Fiat was one of the great Fiats of the uni- 
verse; one made light, another accepted the Father's Will 
in the Garden, and hers accepted a life of selfless fellowship 
with the Cross. 

The Heart of Jesus and the Heart of Mary were made one 
on Calvary in this obedience to the Father's Will. Everyone 
[266] in the world has a cross, but no two crosses are identical. 
Our Lord's was the Cross of Redemption for the sins of the 
world; Our Lady's was lifelong union with that Cross; and the 
thief's was the patience on a cross as the prelude to the crown. 
Our will is the only thing that is absolutely our own; hence it 
is the perfect offering we can make to God. 

Our Lord's first word was to executioners, His second to 
sinners, and His third to His Mother and St. John. It is a word 
of salutation, and yet one which completely altered all hu- 
man relations. He calls His Own Mother "Woman," and John 
her "son". "Woman, behold thy son." "Son, behold thy 
Mother." It was the command to all humanity who would 
follow Him to see His Mother as their own Mother. He had 
given up everything else; now He would give her up, as well; 
but of course He would find her again, Mothering His Mys- 
tical Body. 

Mary's third word, too, was a salutation. We do not know 
exactly what she said except that she saluted and greeted 
her cousin Elizabeth. In this scene, too, there was another 
John John the Baptist and even he proclaimed Mary as 
his mother. With John leaping with joy within her body, 
Elizabeth spoke for him and addressed Mary as the "Mother 
of God." Two unborn children established a relationship be- 
fore either was born. As Jesus on the Cross pronounced His 
Word, Mary was thinking of hers. In the Visitation she was 
bringing Christ's influence before He was born, because she 
was destined at the Cross to be the mother of all who would 
be born. His birth cost her no sorrow, but this birth of John 
and the millions of us at the foot of the Cross brought her 
such agony as to merit her the title "Queen of Martyrs." It 
cost Jesus His Mother to make her our mother; it cost Mary 
[267] her Divine Son to make us her sons. It was a poor 
exchange, but she believes it worth it. 

The fourth word of Mary was her Magnificat, and the 
fourth word of Our Lord was taken from Psalm Twenty-one, 
which begins with sadness "My God, My God, Why hast 
thou forsaken Me?" but ends with somewhat the same note 
as the Song of Mary "The poor shall eat and be filled; all the 
ends of the earth shall remember and adore in His sight." 
Both songs were spoken before there was assurance of victory. 
How hopeless from a human point of view, for a woman to 
look down the corridors of time and prophesy that "all 
generations would call me blessed." How hopeless, from a 
human point of view, was the prospect of Our Lord, now 
crying out to His Father in darkness, of ever exercising 
dominion over the earth that now rejected Him. To both 
Jesus and Mary, there are treasures in darkness - one in the 
darkness of a woman, the other in the darkness of a hill. Only 
those who walk in darkness ever see the stars. 

The fifth word of Mary was pronounced at the end of a 
quest: "My Son! Why have you treated us so? Think what 
anguish of mind your father and I have endured searching 
for you." Mary's fifth word was that of creatures in the quest 
of God. Our Lord's fifth word was that of the Creator, in the 
quest of man: "I thirst." This was not a thirst for earthly 
waters, but a thirst for souls. Mary's word sums up the aspira- 
tion of every soul toward Christ, and His Words sum up her 
Divine Son's affection toward every soul. There is only one 
thing in the world that can prevent each finding the other, 
and that is the human will. We must will to find God; other- 
wise He will always seem to be the Hidden God. 

Mary's sixth word was a simple prayer: "They have no 
[268] wine"; words which prompted Our Lord to work His first 
miracle, and begin His royal road to the Cross. After Our 
Lord on the Cross had tasted the wine given to Him by the 
soldier, He said: "It is finished." That "Hour" which Mary 
began at Cana when He changed water into wine, is now 
finished as the wine of His Life is changed into the blood 
of sacrifice. At Cana, Mary sent Her Son to the Cross; on 
Calvary, Her Son now declares He has finished His work of 
Redemption. Mary's Immaculate Heart was the living Altar 
Stone on which the Sacred Heart is offered; Mary knew that 
the sons of men could never be saved without offering the Son 
of God! 

Mary's last recorded word in Scripture is abandonment 
to the Will of God: "Do whatever He tells you." (John 2:5) 
At the Transfiguration the Heavenly Father spoke, saying: 
"This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him" Now Mary speaks 
His valedictory, "Do His Will" The last word of Jesus on the 
Cross was the free surrender of His Life to His Father's Will: 
"Father, into thy Hands I commend My Spirit." Mary sur- 
renders to Jesus, and Jesus to His Father. To do God's Will 
until death, that is the inner heart of all holiness. And here 
Jesus teaches us how to die, for if He would have His Mother 
with Him in the hour of His great surrender, then how shall 
we dare to miss saying daily: "Pray for us sinners, now, and 
at the hour of our death. Amen"? 


Our Blessed Lord bows His Head and dies, Certain planets 
only after a long time complete their orbit and then go back 
again to their starting point, as if to salute Him, Who sent 
[269] them on their way. He, Who came from the Father, returns 
again to the Father with the last words: "Father, into Thy 
hands I commend My Spirit." A double investigation is 
ordered to prove that He is dead. A sergeant in the Roman 
army then takes a spear and runs it into the side of Our Lord. 
He, Who had stored up a few testimonies of His Love, now 
pours them out from His side as blood and water - blood, 
the price of our redemption, water, which is the symbol of our 

Christ, Who is the Sword of His own death, continues the 
thrusts even after His death, by making Longinus the 
instrument for opening the treasures of His Sacred Heart, 
which becomes the new Ark into which souls to be saved 
from the flood and deluge of sin might enter. But, as the one 
edge opened the treasures of His Heart, the other edge went 
through Mary's soul. Simeon had foretold that a sword her 
own soul would pierce; this time it came through the riven 
side of Her Son. Literally in His case, metaphorically in hers, 
it was a piercing of two hearts with one sword. It is this 
simultaneity of thrusts, this transfixion of His Heart and her 
own soul, which unites us in adoration of the Sacred Heart of 
Jesus and in veneration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 
Persons are never so much united in joy as they are in sorrow. 
Pleasures of the flesh unite, but always with a tinge of egotism, 
because the ego is put in the "you" of the other person, to 
find there delight in its ravishments. But in tears and sorrow, 
the ego is killed before it goes into the "you," and one wills 
nothing but the good of the other. In these successions of 
thrusts, Jesus grieves for His Mother, who must suffer so 
much because of Him; Mary grieves for her Son, caring not 
what happens to herself. The more consolation one has from 
[270] creatures, the less one has from God. Few there are who 
can console. In fact, no one can console except the departed. 
No human can relieve the loneliness of Mary. Only her Divine 
Son can do that. In order that mothers who lose sons in battle- 
fields and spouses who lose spouses amidst the joys of love 
might not be without consolation, Our Lord here becomes the 
bereaved, as He makes Mary their consolation and their 
model. No one again can ever say: "God does not know the 
agony of a deathbed; God does not know the bitterness of my 
tears." This sixth sorrow teaches the lesson that, in such sadness, 
God alone can give consolation. 

After the rebellion against God in Paradise through the 
abuse of human freedom, Adam one day stumbled across the 
body of his son, Abel. Carrying it back to Eve, he laid it on 
her lap. She spoke, but Abel answered not. He had never 
been that way before. They lifted his arms, but they fell limp 
at his side. Then they remembered: "The day that you shall 
eat the fruit of that tree, on that day you shall die the death." 
It was the first death in the world. 

The cycle of time whirls, and the new Abel, slain by the 
jealous race of Cain, is taken down from the Cross and laid in 
the lap of the new Eve, Mary. To a mother, a son never grows 
up. For the moment, Mary must have thought that Bethlehem 
had come back again, for here was her Boy once more on her 
lap. There, too, was another Joseph - but this time the Joseph 
of Aramathea. There were also the spices and myrrh for 
burial, now so redolent of the gift that the Magi brought at 
His Birth. What a portent of death was that third gift of the 
Wise Men! A child is no sooner born than the world suggests 
His death, and yet with justice, for He was the only one who 
ever came into this world to die. Everyone else came into it 
[271] to live. Death was the goal of His Life, the goal that He 
was always seeking. 

But Mary, this is not Bethlehem; this is Calvary. He is 
not white as He came from the Father, but red as He came 
from us. In the crib He was as a chalice of the offertory, full 
of the red wine of life. Now, at the foot of the Cross, His 
Body is as a chalice drained of the drops of blood for the 
redemption of mankind. There was no room in the inn at His 
Birth; there is no room in the inn for His death. "The Son of 
Man has nowhere to lay His Head" except in the arms of 
His Mother. 

When Our Lord told His parables of Mercy, and in 
particular the parable about the Prodigal Son, we hear only 
about the kind father of the prodigal son. Why is the Gospel 
so silent about the mother of the prodigal son? I believe the 
answer is in this sorrow of Our Mother. He is the true prodigal 
son; She is the mother of the Divine Prodigal Who left His 
Father's heavenly house to go into a foreign land - this earth 
of ours. He "wasted His substance," spent His body and blood, 
that we might recover our heirship with Heaven. And now 
He has fallen among citizens of a country foreign to His 
Father's Will and been herded with the swine of sinners. He 
prepares to return to the Father's house. On the roadway of 
Calvary, the Mother of the prodigal son meets Him. In that 
hour she became the mother of all the prodigal sons of the 
world, anointing them with the spices of intercession and 
preparing them for that day, not too far off, when life and 
resurrection will flow through their veins as they walk on the 
wings of the morning. 


[272] There can be no more sorrows after the Resurrection when 
death will be swallowed up in victory. But until the bursting 
of the bonds of dust, there was still one great sorrow that 
Jesus had to will and Mary accept, in order that those who 
bury their loved ones would never be without hope and 
consolation. Our Lord ran the sword of burial into His own 
Heart, inasmuch as He willed that man should never have a 
penalty for sin which He Himself did not bear. As Jonah was 
in the belly of the whale for three days, so would He be in the 
belly of the earth for three days. The Apostles' Creed puts so 
much store upon the bereavement that it mentions the fact 
that Our Lord was ''buried." 

But Our Lord did not pierce His own soul with the penalty 
of burial, without at the same time thrusting that grief into 
Mary's soul. When it happens, the earth is dark, for the sun 
was ashamed to shed its light on the crime of Deicide. The 
earth also shook and the graves gave up their dead. In that 
cataclysm of nature, Mary prepares the Body of her Divine 
Son for burial. Eden has come back again as Mary plants in 
the earth the Tree of Life which will bloom within three days. 

All the fatherless, motherless, sonless, husbandless, and 
wifeless griefs, that ever tore at the hearts of human beings, 
were now bearing down on the soul of Mary. The most any 
human being ever lost in a bereavement was a creature, but 
Mary was burying the Son of God. It is hard to lose a son or a 
daughter, but it is harder to bury Christ. To be motherless is 
a tragedy, but to be Christless is hell. In real love, two hearts 
do not meet in sweet slavery to one another; rather there is the 
melting of two hearts into one. When death comes, there is 
[273] not just a separation of two hearts, but rather the rending of 
the one heart. This was particularly true of Jesus and Mary. 
As Adam and Eve fell through the pleasure of eating one 
apple, so Jesus and Mary were united in the pleasure of eating 
the fruit of the Father's Will. At such moments, there is not 
loneliness, but desolation not the outward desolation such 
as came through the three days' loss, but an inner desolation 
which is probably so deep as to be beyond the expression of 
tears. Some joys are so intense that they provoke not even a 
smile; so there are some griefs which never create a tear. 
Mary's sorrow at the burial of Our Lord was probably of that 
kind. If she could have wept, it would have been a release 
from the tension; but here the only tears were red, in the 
hidden garden of her heart! One cannot think of any sorrow 
after this; it was the last of the sacraments of grief. The 
Divine Sword could will no other thrusts beyond this, either 
for Himself or for her. It had run into two hearts up to the 
very hilt, and when that happens, one is beyond all human 
consolations. In the former sorrow, at least there was the 
consolation of the Body; now even that is gone. Calvary was 
like the bleak silence of a church on Good Friday when the 
Blessed Sacrament has been removed. One can merely stand 
guard at a tomb. 

In a short time the Sword will be pulled out, for the 
Resurrection is the healing of the wounds. On Easter Day 
the Saviour will bear the scars of His Passion to prove that 
love is stronger than death. But will not Mary bear also the 
hidden scar of the Seven Thrusts of the Sword in her own 
soul? The Resurrection will be the sheathing of the sword for 
both, as the debt of sin is paid and man is redeemed. No one 
can tell the griefs that either bore, and no one can tell the 
[274] holiness that she achieved through sharing, as much as she 
could as a creature, in the act of His Redemption. From that 
day on God will permit sorrows, griefs, and sorrows to His 
Christians, but they will only be pinpricks of the Sword 
compared to what He suffered and Mary endured. The Sword 
that Christ ran into His Own Heart and Mary's soul has be- 
come so blunted by the pressings that it can never wound so 
fiercely again. When the Sword does come we must, as Mary, 
see "the shade of His Hand outstretched caressingly."*

* Francis Thompson, "The Hound of Heaven". 

The Woman and the Atom 

[275] There is an excuse for some anxiety today, but no one has 
a right to be without hope. Yet the prophets of gloom abound, 
and the disciples of hope are few. But before giving reasons 
for hope, it is well to inquire why there is so much apprehen- 
sion today. Man is living in fear, but it is different from any 
fear in the past - first, because man used to fear God, with a 
filial fear which made him shrink from hurting the One Whom 
he loved. Later on, man feared not God, but his fellowman, as 
the world shuddered under two World Wars in twenty-one 
years. Now we have come to the last and most awful of all the 
fears, in which man trembles before the littlest thing in the 
universe - the atom! 

The atomic bomb has suddenly made all humanity fear 
that which the individual alone previously feared, namely, 
death. Death has unexpectedly become a phenomenon that 
not only the person must face, but society or civilization itself. 
Those who denied personal immortality used to take refuge 
in collective immortality, saying that, although the individual 
perished, society would be preserved. The atomic bomb has 
made collective immortality a myth and restored personal 
immortality as the great problem of our age. 

[276] The second reason for fear is that religion has again become 
the primary factor of human life, and not for religious but for 
political reasons. All through pre-Christian and Christian 
history, wars were religious. The Babylonians, Persians, 
Greeks, and Romans, all fought religious wars. They fought 
them in the names of their gods, and against peoples who 
believed in other kinds of gods. In Christian times, wars were 
still religious. Islam is a religion and, as such, crushed 
Christianity, reducing the number of Bishops in Africa from 
seven hundred and fifty in the seventh century, to only five 
in the eleventh century, so that Africa now has to be re- 
evangelized. Islam is a religion believing in God but fight- 
ing against those who believe that God revealed Himself in 
His Divine Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. There 
was no quarrel among the combatants in the older wars about 
the end of man, namely, his union with God. There was only 
a quarrel about the means to that end. 

But today all this has changed. There are no more struggles 
of the gods against gods, or of inferior religions against 
Christianity, but rather the absolutely new phenomenon of 
an antireligious force opposing all religion. Communism is 
not an atheism which intellectually denies God in the manner 
of the sophomore who has just read the first fifteen pages of 
a textbook in biology. Rather, Communism is the will to 
destroy God. It does not so much negate the existence of God; 
rather, it challenges Him, changes His essence into evil, and 
makes man in the form of a dictator, the Lord and Master of 
the world. 

Whether we will it or not, we are being confronted not 
with a choice between religions, but with the supreme 
alternative of God or anti-God. Never before were democracy 
[277] and belief in God so nearly identified; never before were 
atheism and tyranny so much a twin. The preservation of 
civilization and culture is now one with the preservation of 
religion. If the anti-God forces of the world conquer, culture 
and civilization will disappear, and we will have to start all 
over again. 

This brings us to the third characteristic of our modem 
fear, namely, the dissolving of man into nature. Man to be 
happy must maintain two relationships: one vertical with 
God, the other horizontal with fellowmen. In modern times, 
man first serves his vertical relations with God by indifference 
and irreligion, then his horizontal relations with neighbor by 
war and civil strife. Man tried to compensate for the loss of 
both by the new dimension of depth, in which he sought to 
lose himself in nature. He, who once was rightly proud of 
being made to the image and likeness of God, began to boast 
that he was his own creator and that he made God to his 
image and likeness. From this false humanism came the 
descent from the human to the animal, when man admitted 
he came from the beast, and immediately proceeded to prove 
it by acting like a beast in war. More recently he has made 
himself one with nature, saying that he is nothing more than 
a complex arrangement of chemical elements. He now calls 
himself "the atomic man," as Theology becomes Psychology, 
Psychology becomes Biology, Biology becomes Physics. 

We can understand what Cournot meant when he said, 
that God in the twentieth century would leave men to the 
fate of mechanical laws of which He Himself is the author. 
The atomic bomb acts on humanity as excessive alcohol acts 
on a human. If a man abuses the nature of alcohol and drinks 
to excess, alcohol renders its own judgment. It says to the 
[278] alcoholic: "God made me. He intended that I be used ra- 
tionally, that is, for healing and for conviviality. But you have 
abused me. I shall therefore turn against you, because you 
have turned against me. From now on you will have head- 
aches, dizziness, an upset stomach; you will lose your reason; 
you will become a slave to me, and this although I want you 

So with the atom. It says to man: "God made me. He put 
atomic fission in the universe. That is how the sun lights the 
world. The great power which the Omnipotence has locked 
within my heart was made to serve you for peaceful purposes: 
to light your cities, to drive your motors, to ease the burdens 
of men. But instead, like Prometheus, you have stolen this 
fire from heaven and used it for the first time to destroy 
noncombatants. You did not first use electricity to kill a man, 
but you first used atomic fission to annihilate cities. For that 
reason, I shall turn against you, make you fear what you should 
love, make millions of hearts shrink in terror from your 
enemies, doing to you what you have done to them, and turn 
humanity into a victim of Frankenstein, cowering in bomb 
shelters from the very monsters you have created." 

It is not that God has abandoned the world, but that the 
world has abandoned God and cast its lot with nature 
divorced from Nature's God. Man throughout history has 
always become wicked when, turning his back on God, he 
identified himself with nature. The new name for nature is 
Science. Science rightly understood means reading the Wis- 
dom of God in Nature, which God made. Science wrongly 
understood means reading the proofs of the Book of Nature 
while denying that the Book ever had an Author. Nature or 
Science is a servant of man under God; but divorced from 
[279] God, Nature or Science is a tyrant, and the atom bomb 
is the symbol of that tyranny. 

Since man trembles before Nature without God, the only 
hope for mankind must be found in nature itself. It is as if 
God in His Mercy, when man turned his head away from the 
heavens, still left hope for him in the very nature toward 
which he now lowers his eyes. There is Hope and a great 
Hope, too. The Hope is ultimately in God, but people are so 
far away from God they cannot immediately make the leap. 
We have to start with the world as it is. The Divine seems far 
away. The start back to God must begin with nature. But is 
there anything unspoiled and unshattered in all nature with 
which we can start the way back? There is one thing, which 
Wordsworth called our "tainted nature's solitary boast." That 
hope is in The Woman. She is not a goddess, she is not divine, 
she is entitled to no adoration. But she came out of our 
physical and cosmic nature so holy and good that when God 
came to this earth He chose her to be His Mother and the 
Woman of the world. 

It is particularly interesting that the theology of the 
Russians, before they were overwhelmed by the cold heart 
of the anti-God, taught that when the world rejected the 
Heavenly Father He sent His Divine Son, Jesus Christ, to 
illumine the world. Then they went on to predict that, when 
the world would reject Our Lord as it has done today, on that 
Dark Night the light of His Mother would arise to illumine 
the darkness and lead the world to peace. The beautiful 
revelation of Our Blessed Mother at Fatima in Portugal from 
April to October, 1917, was another proof of the Russian 
thesis that, when the world would fight against the Savior, 
He would send His Mother to save us. And her greatest 
[280] Revelation took place in the very month the Bolshevik 
Revolution began. 

What was said on those occasions is too well known to be 
repeated. Our present concern is with the Dance of the Sun 
which took place on October 13, 1917. Those who love the 
Mother of Our Lord need no further evidence of this event. 
Since those who unfortunately do not know either would take 
proof only from those who reject both Our Lord and His 
Mother, I offer this description of the phenomenon by the 
atheist editor of the anarchist Portuguese newspaper O 
Seculo, who was one among the 70,000 who witnessed the 
incident that day. It was "a spectacle unique and incredi- 
ble. . . . One can see the immense crowd turn toward the 
sun which reveals itself free of the clouds in full noon. The 
great star of day makes one think of a silver plaque, and it 
is possible to look straight at it without the least dis- 
comfort. . . . The astonished eyes of the people, full of 
terror, with heads uncovered, gaze into the blue of the sky. 
The sun has trembled, and has made some brusque move- 
ments, unprecedented, and outside of all cosmic laws. Ac- 
cording to the typical expressions of the peasants 'the sun 
danced.' The sun turned around on itself like a wheel of 
fireworks, and it fell almost to the point of burning the earth 
with its rays ... It remains for those competent to pro- 
nounce on the danse macabre of the sun, which today at 
Fatima has made Hosannas burst from the breasts of the 
faithful and has naturally impressed even freethinkers and 
other persons not at all interested in religious matter." 

Another atheistic and antireligious sheet, O Ordem, wrote: 
"The sun is sometimes surrounded with crimson flames, at 
other times aureoled with yellow and at still others, red; it 
[281] seemed to revolve with a very rapid movement of rotation, 
apparently detaching itself from the sky, and approached the 
earth while radiating strong heat." 

Why should Almighty God have chosen to verify the 1917 
message of Our Lady about the end of World War I, about 
the beginning of World War II in 1939 if men did not repent, 
through nature's one indispensable light and heat? We may 
only conjecture. 

There are three possible ways of interpreting the Miracle of 
the Sun. The first is to regard it as a warning of the atomic 
bomb, which, like a falling sun, would darken the world. It 
conceivably might be a portent of the day when man, 
Prometheus-like, would snatch fire from the heavens and then 
rain it down as death on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. 

On the other hand, it could be seen as a sign of hope, 
namely, that the Woman who came out of nature is mightier 
than the forces of nature. The atomic bomb explodes through 
fission, or one atom rending and tearing another atom. But 
atomic fission is the way the sun lights the world. God put 
atomic fission in the universe; otherwise we would not have 
discovered it. At Fatima, the fact that Mary could take this 
great center and seat of atomic power and make it her play- 
thing, the fact that she could swing the sun "like a trinket at 
her wrist," is a proof that God has given her power over it, 
not for death, but for light and life and hope. As Scripture 
foretold: "And now, in heaven, a great sign appeared; a 
woman clothed with the sun." (Rev. 12:1) 

There is a third way of viewing the Miracle of the Sun and 
that is to regard it as a miniature and a cameo of what may yet 
happen to the world, namely, some sudden cataclysm or 
catastrophe which would make the world shake in horror as 
[282] the 70,000 shook at Fatima that day. This catastrophe would 
be a precocious or uncontrolled explosion of an atomic bomb 
which would literally shake the earth. This is not beyond the 
realm of possibility. Einstein and Lindbergh in their scientific 
writings have mentioned it as a danger. But better than either 
testimony is the address the Holy Father gave at the opening 
session of the Pontifical Academy of Science on February 21, 
1943 two years before the first atomic bomb was dropped. 

Since atoms are extremely small it was not thought seriously 
that they might also acquire practical importance. Today, in- 
stead, such a question has taken an unexpected form following 
the results of artificial radioactivity. It was, in fact, established 
that in the disintegration, which the atom of uranium under- 
goes when bombarded by neutrons, two or three neutrons are 
freed, each launching itself - one being able to meet and smash 
another uranium atom. 

From special calculation it has been ascertained that in such 
a way (neutron bombardment causing a breakdown in the ura- 
nium atom) in one cubic meter of oxide power of uranium, in 
less than one one-hundredth of a second, there develops enough 
energy to elevate more than sixteen miles a weight of a billion 
tons: a sum of energy which could substitute for many years the 
action of all the great power plants of the world. 

Above all, therefore, it should be of utmost importance that 
the energy originated by such a machine should not be let loose 
to explode but a way found to control such power with suit- 
able chemical means. Otherwise there could result, not only in 
a single place but also for our entire planet, a dangerous catas- 

On October 13, 1917, believers and unbelievers prostrated 
themselves upon the ground during the Miracle of the Sun, 
[283] most of them pleading to God for Mercy and Forgiveness. 
That whirling sun, which spun like a giant wheel and thrust 
itself to the earth as if it would burn it with its rays, may have 
been the harbinger of a world spectacle that will draw mil- 
lions to their knees in a rebirth of faith. And as Mary revealed 
herself in that first Miracle of the Sun, so may we look forward 
to another revelation of her power when the world has its 
next rehearsal for the Dies Irae. 

Devotion to Our Lady of Fatima is actually a petition to a 
Woman to save man from nature made destructive through 
the rebellious intellect of man. At other moments in history, 
she was a Mediatrix of Her Divine Son for man; but here she 
is a Mediatrix for nature. She seizes the original atomic power 
which is the sun and proves it is hers to use for peace. And 
yet it is not apart from man that she would save him from 
nature, as it was not apart from her free consent that God 
would save humanity from sin. Man must cooperate through 
penance. At La Salette, Our Lady asked for penance. At 
Lourdes, three times the Blessed Mother said: "Penance, pen-
ance, penance." At Fatima, the same penitential antiphon is struck 
time and time again. The atom will not destroy man, if man 
will not destroy himself. An atom in revolt is only a symbol 
of man in revolt. But humanity in repentance will purchase 
a nature in complete control. Like the threatened destruction 
of Nineveh, the threat of another World War is conditional. 
The Blessed Mother revealed at Fatima in 1917 that World 
War I would end in another year. If men repented, she said, 
a great era of peace and prosperity would come to the world. 
But if not, another World War, worse than the first, would 
begin in the reign of the next Pontiff (Pius XI). The Civil 
War in Spain in 1936 was thus looked upon by Heaven as the 
[284] curtain raiser and the prologue of World War II. This war 
would be the means by which "God will punish the world for 
its crimes by means of war, of hunger, and of persecution of 
the Church and the Holy Father. 

"To prevent this I come to ask the consecration of Russia 
to My Immaculate Heart and the Communion of Reparation 
on the first Saturdays. Russia will be converted, and there 
will be peace. If my requests are not granted, Russia will 
scatter her errors throughout the world, provoking wars and 
persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the 
Holy Father will have to suffer much, and various nations will 
be annihilated." 

There then comes a missing paragraph, which the Church 
has not yet given to the world. It probably refers to these 
times. Then, as if to indicate that it will be a Time of Trouble, 
comes the concluding paragraph: "In the end My Immaculate 
Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to 
me, and it will be converted and a certain period of peace will 
be granted to the world." 

Repentance, prayer, sacrifice - these are conditions of 
peace, for they are the means by which man is remade. Fatima 
throws a new light on Russia, for it makes a distinction 
between Russia and the Soviets. It is not the Russian people 
that must be conquered in war; they have already suffered 
enough since 1917. It is Communism that must be crushed. 
This can be done by a Revolution from within. It is well 
to remember that Russia has not one, but two atomic bombs. 
Her second bomb is the pent-up sufferings of her people 
under the yoke of slavery, and when that explodes it will be 
with a force a thousand times greater than that which comes 
from the fission of an atom! We need a revolution, too, as well 
as Russia. Our revolution must be from within our hearts, that 
[285] is, by the remaking of our lives. As we proceed with our 
Revolution, the Revolution in Russia will grow apace. 

O Mary, we have exiled Your Divine Son from our lives, 
our councils, our education and families! Come with the light 
of the sun as the symbol of His Power! Heal our wars, our 
dark unrest; cool the cannon's lips so hot with war! Take our 
minds off the atom and our souls out of the muck of nature! 
Give us rebirth in Your Divine Son, us, the poor children of the 
earth grown old with age! "Advance Woman, in Thy Assault 
upon Omnipotence!" Shame us all into enlisting as Your war- 
riors of peace and love!